Wisconsin handed No. 19 Indiana its first Big Ten loss of the season as the Badgers needed overtime to secure a 82-79 home win on Tuesday night.
On a night in which both teams struggled to find offensive continuity, the Badgers were able to snap Indiana’s 12-game winning streak by dictating the pace of play. While the fast-paced Indiana offense has been difficult to defend the last few weeks, Wisconsin made the Hoosiers work on most possessions and it limited Indiana’s offense to a lot of one-on-one breakdowns and contested shots. Indiana’s offense averages 17 assists on the season and only finished with six on Tuesday as they turned the ball over 19 times and struggled at times to get clean looks
While Yogi Ferrell (30 points), Thomas Bryant (16 points) and Troy Williams (15 points) maintained their normal scoring output, the rest of Indiana’s roster couldn’t contribute much on the offensive end.
Nigel Hayes led Wisconsin with 31 points as he was a difficult matchup for Indiana on the defensive end. Hayes scored from a few different areas on the floor and also did a great job of getting to the free-throw line, where he finished 17-for-22 for the game. Redshirt freshman Ethan Happ also added 25 points, eight rebounds and four steals for Wisconsin. Jordan Hill also stepped up and scored 13 points off the bench, going 5-for-5 from the field and making some solid plays on the defensive end.
Indiana (17-4, 7-1) certainly deserves credit for improving its play since the beginning of the season — and going on a 12-game winning streak — but I wrote over the weekend about how they’ve played a soft Big Ten schedule and it’s hard to say how good Indiana actually is at this point. We knew the Hoosiers weren’t as good as an Iowa team that has swept Michigan State and Purdue, but they were still in the Big Ten title picture as long as they kept winning games they should. With this loss, they come back down to Earth a little bit, although they’re still a factor in the conference race. It remains to be seen whether Indiana can still hang with the big boys of college basketball.
As for Wisconsin, this is a huge win for the Badgers, especially when you consider Bronson Koenig (four points, 1-for-9 FG) really struggled and they still found a way to win. Interim head coach Greg Gard has the Badgers competing against good teams and he now owns top-25 wins over Michigan State and Indiana during an important three-game winning streak. The Badgers (12-9, 4-4) don’t look like they’ll make a run towards a NCAA tournament at-large bid, but I certainly wouldn’t take them lightly, especially at the Kohl Center.