For Wisconsin’s men’s basketball team (11-6 Big Ten, 19-9 overall), Tuesday’s game was a must-win in the race for a top-four conference finish. Against a hungry Indiana Hoosiers team (5-12 Big Ten, 14-14 overall) that had won only one game since January, the No. 19 Badgers fell short, 75-73 in double overtime.
In first half, Badgers lack scoring beyond Happ and Iverson
Senior center Ethan Happ dominated out of the gate, scoring eight of Wisconsin’s first 14 points, and 10 total for the half, reaching double digits in every career game against the Hoosiers.
In addition, senior guard Khalil Iverson continued his recent hot streak, reaching double figures for the third straight game. He made six of his seven shots in the period for 12 points, also contributing three offensive rebounds, an assist and a steal.
Beyond those two upperclassmen, however, the Badgers gave a listless performance. At one point, they missed 13 of their 14 shots from the field as a team. Sophomore forward Nate Reuvers was the only other Badger to make more than one basket, scoring four points on only 2-for-7 shooting. Junior guard Brevin Pritzl provided the only other three points.
Starting guards Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice had zero points on seven shots. While the Hoosiers got hot at the end of the half from the three-point line, the Badgers went ice cold as they found themselves down four at the break.
Badgers fail to show killer instinct
Both teams have become accustomed to close finishes recently. Wisconsin’s previous six games were all decided by eight points or fewer; the Hoosiers, for their part, had seen seven of their previous eight finish within eight points. After a huge 20-3 run gave the Badgers a three-point lead late in the second half, it seemed inevitable that the Hoosiers would fall flat again.
But on their home floor, IU was determined to rewrite the script, playing stifling defense down the stretch to keep their slim tournament hopes alive as they held UW to long scoring droughts.
Freshman phenom Romeo Langford put up 22 points and made several impressive plays driving to the basket, including the game-winner with less than a second left in double overtime. Aljani Durham stretched the floor, making three three-pointers in the first half to finish with 11 points.
The Badgers also shot themselves in the foot on numerous occasions, failing at the free-throw line in crucial situations. Although Trice hit a pair of clutch free throws at the end of regulation, they went 5-for-11 in the second OT, enough to make the difference. In a key moment, UW failed to foul down one point until they allowed an and-one with 15.5 seconds to go. Trice again hit three free throws to tie the game before Langford sealed it for the Hoosiers.
Left on the floor throughout much of single and double OT, sophomore guard Brad Davison didn’t repay the faith of Greg Gard on Tuesday. He went 1-for-11 from the field, including one-for-seven from three-point range. A late three-point miss from the sophomore that clanked off the lower backboard summed up his night.
Coming into the game, Davison was shooting slightly worse on the road (42 percent) than at home (45 percent), and Tuesday was his poorest performance of the season. Kobe King and Brevin Pritzl both shot well from the bench, but were largely left off the court in the game’s final moments. Considering Davison’s struggles, many Badger fans may be wondering why those two didn’t see more minutes.
Badgers winning ways come to an end despite battling back
After consecutive wins against Illinois and Northwestern, the Badgers fell back to earth against Indiana after putting themselves in a large second-half hole. They trailed by as many as 13 at one point — the first double digit deficit they’ve faced since a Jan. 14 loss at Maryland. Wisconsin are now 7-5 on the road, and face one road final test at Ohio State in their last Big Ten game of the regular season. The Badgers will have to win their next three games and hope Maryland falters to earn a coveted double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament.