Key MomentWith IU leading the game for most of the night, the Badgers had finally claimed a narrow margin with just over six minutes to play, but the lead hardly felt secure as IU continued to push right back on every made Wisconsin basket. It was a spirited back-and-forth battle, but it wouldn't last.
Jordan Taylor hit a tough jumper and a pair of free throws next on his way to a career-high 28 points that gave Wisconsin a 58-52 lead. IU's next possession ended when Elston threw the ball out of bounds on a pass intended for Hulls. The Hoosiers still weren't finished as they came up with a key stop to halt the bleeding, but Hulls missed an open three and after an offensive rebound Jones missed a prime pull-up jumper. Both were shots that had been falling for each player this season, but tired legs seemed to leave both shots short. The Hoosiers would never catch the Badgers again.
When It Was OverThrough sheer determination Indiana had kept themselves in the game late with a chance to win despite some very tired legs. Down just 58-62 with a little over a minute to play, Jeremiah Rivers almost came up with diving steal. Instead, Wisconsin's leading-scorer Jon Leuer came up with the ball, quickly turned, and forced a one-handed shot past the tight defense of Tom Pritchard. The ball banked hard off the glass and through the net, Pritchard was whistled for the foul, and the ensuing Leuer free throw gave the Badgers a 65-58 lead and the win.
MVPFor the second game in a row you can really flip a coin between Jordan Hulls and Verdell Jones for player of the game honors. Both shot the ball well and virtually co-led the Hoosier scoring with 16 and 15 points respectively. We will give the very narrow margin of victory to Jones due to his six rebounds on a night when rebounds were scarce and because of his reduced turnovers (2). The junior continues to improve his mid-range game and if he can keep his turnovers down will continue to become an increasing factor in conference play.
Biggest SurpriseThe Hoosiers have seen several different players carry the offense during this season, but who would have ever guessed it would be Jeremiah Rivers offensively willing the Hoosiers to stay in the game Thursday night. During the last six minutes of the game against Wisconsin it was the gutty performance of their senior guard that kept the IU offense moving forward. Rivers continuously attacked the basket down the stretch, picking up key fouls, and scoring some key transition points. With Maurice Creek now out for the season, Rivers confidence was a welcome sight.
Why They LostThere are always the usual suspects you can point to when Indiana loses to a team like Wisconsin on the road, but Indiana's effort was so good Thursday night that none of the usual excuses seem to ring true. The talent disparity wasn't as great as it is with most Top 25 teams the Hoosiers face, they didn't back down to a more physical team, their execution didn't lag far behind their opponents, no, this one seemed to come down to something much more simple—they ran out of gas.
Indiana outworked their opponent for the first 34 minutes of the game, but couldn't sustain the pace during a key stretch in the last six minutes that saw the Badgers finally create some space. Hoosier shots began to come up just short, defenders were a step too late, and tired legs led to straying arms and defensive fouls. When they were able to catch their breath and regroup they were looking at a seven-point deficit with just over four minutes to go. It was too tough of a hill to climb.