BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team extended its winning streak to five games Thursday, winning 68-51 over Indiana at Assembly Hall.
Although they let the Hoosiers hang around for the first 22 minutes, the Badgers dominated the last 18, outscoring Indiana 37-21 in the second half and 32-17 over that 18-minute stretch.
“I’d like to say it was something (we did) at halftime,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said. “Just finish inside. We had some shots in the first half inside, (but) we just didn’t finish.”
UW downed the Hoosiers behind a 21-point performance from junior Trevon Hughes and an 18-point performance by senior Joe Krabbenhoft. Also contributing for the Badgers was senior Marcus Landry, who scored nine points on 4-of-7 shooting despite feeling a bit under the weather.
Hughes had success inside and out in the game, hitting 3-of-6 from beyond the arc while frequently slashing through the Hoosiers’ defense for layups or a kick out to the perimeter.
“Trevon and Jordan (Taylor) did a great job of running the show out there,” Krabbenhoft said. “They were coming off those screens (and) finding guys open.”
The lone bright spots for Indiana were guards Verdell Jones III and? Devan Dumes. Jones scored 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting for IU and Dumes added 12 points, hitting just 1-of-6 from the floor while going a perfect 9-for-9 at the charity stripe.
After a close, hard-fought first half, the Badgers seized control of the game, pushing the lead to 15 points with an 18-4 run in the first eight minutes and 28 seconds of play. The UW defense managed to shut down Indiana, as IU went scoreless from 17:37 to the 10:59 mark.
“We got back a little better and protected the rim,” Ryan said. “In the second half when you shoot [60.9 percent] and you don’t have a lot of turnovers, the other team is not going to get a whole lot in transition.”
In the first half, Hughes got the Badgers going early, scoring 10 of Wisconsin’s first 15 points. UW couldn’t put the Hoosiers away early, however, as the two teams were tied six times in the first period, and the lead changed nine times before going to the locker room with UW ahead by a slim 31-30 margin.
Indiana had a chance to take the lead back with less than five seconds remaining in the half, but both Hoosier shot attempts were unsuccessful.
In the second half, Indiana came out hot in the first minute, with Jones scoring first on a short jumper to swing the lead back the Hoosiers’ way. Wisconsin (17-9, 8-6) answered Jones’ jumper with a pair of buckets and a Landry free throw, giving them a lead they would not relinquish.
Indiana (6-19, 1-12 Big Ten) responded with a pair of Devan Dumes free throws to cut the lead to two points, 36-34, at 17:37, the closest they would get the rest of the way. Following the Dumes free throws, Wisconsin reeled off 13 unanswered points heading into the second media timeout.
“We’re not in a position where we can let the other team find that rhythm,” IU head coach Tom Crean said. “[Wisconsin] found a rhythm in the second half.”
Crean’s squad battled back, cutting the UW lead to 11 points with 9:09 to play on another pair of Dumes free throws. Unfortunately for IU, however, Krabbenhoft drew a charge for UW to stop the Hoosier run, and the Badgers went on a run of their own, scoring nine in a row over the next 4:36.
“That definitely gave us momentum,” Hughes said of the charge. “They [were] trying to make a push and come back and get [the lead] under 10 points, but when he took that charge, it went back into our favor.”
Wisconsin earned its biggest lead with 3:24 to play, as a Krabbenhoft jumper gave the Badgers a 64-42 lead. It was at that point that the majority of an announced crowd of 14,669 started heading for the exits at Assembly Hall.
For the Badgers, the win keeps their recent momentum rolling toward a Sunday matchup with No. 6 Michigan State in East Lansing. Although it also helps to solidify their improving NCAA Tournament hopes, Ryan’s squad is not ready to look too far into the future.
“You know what’s the most important? Michigan State,” Ryan said. “We’re going to get ready for Michigan State — I never get into that other stuff. … My world is shut off to just getting ready for the next team. Ignorance of ignorance is bliss.”