Badgers hold off No. 2 Indiana for 64-59 upset
BLOOMINGTON, IND. Wisconsin played Tuesday night like it always does — defended everything, made big shots and limited the turnovers.
Indiana looked like anything but its usual self.
It was just another chapter in a series filled with strange twists.
Ryan Evans scored 13 points, Traevon Jackson added 11 and the unranked Badgers moved into sole possession of the Big Ten lead with a 64-59 upset at No. 2 Indiana.
“We’re feeling good about ourselves right now,” Badgers forward Jared Berggren said. “It shows we can beat anyone, anywhere, anytime; so I think it shows what we’re capable of.”
Especially if the Badgers (13-4, 4-0) keep playing this way.
Wisconsin has won seven straight and has beaten two top-15 teams in four days. It is the last unbeaten team in Big Ten play.
All the Badgers needed to do against Indiana was hold the nation’s highest-scoring team to its fewest points of the season, its worst shooting performance of the season and end its 18-game home winning streak.
Wisconsin became the first team to win 11 straight in a series with Indiana since the Badgers last did it in 1919, and the first team to win five straight in Bloomington since Purdue last did that in 1923. No team has ever won six straight on Indiana’s home court and only Purdue, from 1908-14, has won 12 in a row against the Hoosiers.
The Badgers just stuck to the game plan.
“We knew that if they got it going in transition they can score in bunches. All you have to do is look at their game films,” Bo Ryan said, acknowledging he coached with flu-like symptoms. “Our goal was not to let that happen, but saying it and doing it, having it as a plan, are two different things. It just so happened to work tonight.”
Indiana (15-2, 3-1) felt ill for another reason.
The Hoosiers scored only three fast-break points and watched the Badgers toss in shot-clock beating 3-pointers. Indiana came into the game averaging a Big Ten-leading 17 assists per game, yet managed only seven against the Badgers.
And instead of pressuring Wisconsin into miscues, the Badgers committed just eight turnovers.
Cody Zeller, who made all eight of his shots and had 18 points in the first half, finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds and made only one basket in the second half. Christian Watford had 11 points, and Victor Oladipo had 10.
“That’s their style of play. We just didn’t defend the dribble well enough, didn’t make enough shots,” Zeller said. “That’s what it boils down to.”
The Badgers followed the script perfectly. They limited the mistakes, took advantage of seemingly every opportunity they got, especially in the second half as Hoosiers fans moaned and groaned about everything from missed shots to errant passes.
Indiana rallied late in the first half to take a 32-31 halftime lead, then opened the second half with a three-point play to make it 35-31. The home crowd figured it was going to be the start of a big run.
Instead, Wisconsin gave up only six points over the next 6:34, a drought that allowed Wisconsin to retake a 38-37 lead with a 7-0 run. A few minutes later, the Badgers were off on a 9-0 spurt that ended when Mike Bruesewitz’s 3 beat the shot-clock buzzer to make it 47-39. It was 51-41 before the Hoosiers finally cranked up the pressure.
“When you get momentum going, it’s amazing what can happen,” coach Tom Crean said. “They played really hard and they got the momentum.”
Indiana looked like it had swung the momentum back in its direction when it scored four straight and after Evans made 1 of 2 free throws, they answered with a 6-0 spurt — the final basket a 3-pointer from Yogi Ferrell that cut the lead to 52-51 with 4:40 to go.
But that was as close as Indiana got.
Ben Brust made a 17-foot jumper and the Badgers closed it out with a game-ending 12-8 run.
“If you just play the game and have the right attitude about it, you make good things happen,” Ryan said. “Players have to play.”