By Andy Proffet
CNHI News Service
After Wisconsin’s quarterfinal win Friday in the Big Ten Tournament, Bo Ryan was asked about his team’s success against its next opponent, Indiana.
“I don’t know about anything what you’re talking about,” Ryan said. “I don’t even think about those kinds of things. Never have. And people that know me will tell you that.”
How about after the Badgers defeated the top-seeded Hoosiers 68-56 on Saturday, Wisconsin’s 12th straight win in the series which denied IU the chance for the program’s first conference tournament championship?
“We don’t really think about that,” Jared Berggren said. “We just take it one game at a time. We wanted to come down here to try to win a championship. But we knew that we were capable of having success against this team. If we stuck to our rules and played our style of basketball, we were able to do that today to come up with a win.”
Indeed, the Badgers (23-10) stuck to their game plan while the Hoosiers (27-6) did not.
“We’ve been defending the 3 the last six or seven games at an incredibly high level. And today we didn’t,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said.
Wisconsin wasn’t stellar from 3-point range, hitting just 7-of-18 (38.9 percent). But each make seemed to come just as the Hoosiers were mounting a comeback.
“They got some kick-out 3s and things of that nature, but we got away from what had really been making us better, and we started to overhelp again and tried to cover for one another when there was no need to do it,” Crean said.
The Badgers led 34-31 at halftime after shooting 15-of-29 from the field. Wisconsin extended its lead to 40-31 before an IU comeback.
The Hoosiers used a 10-0 run, capped by a Remy Abell free throw, to take a 41-40 lead with 13:27 to play. Ben Brust hit a 3-pointer to put Wisconsin back in front, then Jordan Hulls tied the game at 43-43 on a jumper with 12:51 remaining.
Sam Dekker scored the game’s next seven points to put Wisconsin ahead 50-43, but the Hoosiers answered with a 6-0 run to pull within one.
Another Wisconsin run gave the Badgers a 55-49 lead, and the Hoosiers didn’t get within four points the rest of the way.
“Credit them, they did a great job down the stretch, and we had some key turnovers,” said Victor Oladipo. “We’ve got to look back and see what we did wrong and fix it, get ready for the NCAA tournament.”
Ryan Evans credited Wisconsin’s success against Indiana to the defense. The Hoosiers shot just 21-of-55 (38.2 percent) from the field, including 9-of-28 in the second half.
Is that a blueprint other teams can use against the Hoosiers?
“Teams have been trying to slow it down on us all year,” Cody Zeller said. “We always want to speed up the pace with our pressure. If we’re getting after them on the defensive end, getting deflections, that’s how we want to play. We didn’t do enough of that to speed up the pace tonight, which is why we got beat.”
Christian Watford led the Hoosiers with 14 points. Zeller had 13 points and 11 rebounds, but shot just 4-of-10, the day after making 9-of-11 shots against Illinois.
Zeller’s fellow player of the year candidate, Oladipo, had 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting, but had four steals to tie Isiah Thomas for IU’s single-season steal record with 74.
Evans scored 16 to lead the Badgers, who also had double-digit scorers in Brust (12), Berggren and Dekker (11 apiece).