BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — There is little doubt that Traevon Jackson has earned the right to take the last shot at the end of a game — note his three game-winning and game-tying shots last season — but the well was dry Tuesday night in Assembly hall.
With 12.7 seconds left and Wisconsin (16-1, 3-1 Big Ten) down three, Jackson drove to the top of the key and attempted a shot over 6-foot-10 Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh that would tie the game at 75 with Indiana (12-5, 2-2), but it banged off the front of the rim.
Josh Gasser came down with the offensive board and dished it out to Brust in the corner, but unaware that there was still 6-plus seconds left on the clock, the Badgers’ best outside shooter took an off balance shot that found nothing but air.
Indiana’s Stanford Robinson came down with his fifth rebound and Evan Gordon ran the time out as Wisconsin’s dream of an undefeated season came to an end and Indiana snapped its 12-game losing streak to the Badgers with the 75-72 win.
Jackson led the way for the Badgers with 21 points on 9-11 shooting from the field.
Frank Kaminsky came up one rebound short of a double-double with 11 points and nine boards and Brust chipped in 13 of his own.
Will Sheehey and Robinson both finished with 13 points, but it was Yogi Ferrell that led the Hoosiers as he poured in a game-high 25 points on 24 of Indiana’s 62 shots.
Gasser was one of the Badgers tasked with slowing down the Hoosiers’ biggest scoring threat, but the sophomore was able to use his quickness to create space no matter who was guarding him.
“He’s a great player, very fast, quick,” Gasser said of Ferrell. “He’s just different than anyone we have ever faced in terms of his quickness and ball skills … he started to hit some big shots, you have to credit him for that.”
Wisconsin shot more than 7 percent better than its season average from the field tallying 53.3 percent (32-60).
But even the Badgers’ above average shooting performance paled in comparison to the way they came out of the gates to start each half.
Wisconsin started 7-for-7 from the field to begin the game with buckets by all five starters, but to start the second half it would take only one player to jump start the Badgers’ offense as Jackson hit four-straight shots in less than four minutes.
Jackson’s nine points early in the second half kicked off a 15-8 run that gave Wisconsin a 10-point lead — 52-42 — with 13:28 remaining. With the Badgers seemingly in control of the game, Indiana answered with a 12-0 run that would give them a 54-52 lead with less than nine minutes remaining.
“That’s college basketball. It’s a game of runs, you just have to try and sustain a run when it happens and hit a couple of shots. The crowd got into it, they started feeling it a little bit and we did nothing to take them out of it.”
After that it was a back-and-forth battle until the end and a battle that Indiana would win in the paint racking up 52 points in the lane, though Wisconsin was not far off with 44 of its own.
“We know that’s their strength. That’s what they are going to do and they’re really good at it,” Gasser said. “Pretty much every guy on their roster is attack first and can score in the paint and it showed out there.”
Though both teams were pounding the paint, Wisconsin only managed to get to the free-throw line four times—a season low, five fewer than the nine attempts against UW-Milwaukee earlier in the season.
“That’s trouble,” Gasser said. “Usually when you do that you are going to lose the ball game and we did.”
The officiating played a major factor in the way Wisconsin was able to defend Indiana’s drives, as several players were concerned about fouling out.
“We didn’t play well at all, but I think that a lot of that has to do with the way the game was called,” Jackson said. “A lot of us didn’t want to foul … I think that we couldn’t really challenge as good as we wanted too because of some of the fouls that were being called.”
In the end Wisconsin came up three points short of adding another win to its record-setting start, but Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said, in a way only he could, his team needs to continue to fight and move on.
“Did you ever ask somebody to dance and they said no? That’s disappointment, but you end up dancing later on,” Ryan said. “I mean we got to come back. We’ve got another game coming up. It’s disappointing, but hey, you’ve got to ask somebody else.”