It wasn't magic: Wisconsin just made shots

Wisconsin outscored Indiana 50-29 in the second half to bury the Hoosiers for the 12th straight time in Madison.

You can look anywhere you want for answers to yet another blown lead by Indiana in the second half. You can blame the coaching, the lack of second half adjustments, the lack of offensive movement.

But you'd be looking in many of the wrong places. Wisconsin beat Indiana in the second half and erased a 10-point halftime deficit for a very simple reason: It made shots.

I know, some high-level analysis for you. But it really was that simple. The Badgers were 7-of-27 from the field in the first half, 1-of-10 from beyond the arc, and scored only 19 points. They got some good looks, just didn't knock down many of them. You knew eventually they would.

In the second half, they were even better than they normally were, and Indiana struggled to stay in the game.

"People think we did some crazy magic," Wisconsin's Sam Dekker said afterward. "No, we just made shots."

Consider these numbers: Wisconsin made 13-of-21 shots from the field in the second half, better than 60 percent. The Badgers buried six 3-pointers on 11 attempts. They made a total of 22 free throws to Indiana's two. And they turned the ball over three times.

Sure, Indiana was hard to watch offensively a lot of times in the second half, but that's to be expected when it had to play in the halfcourt against a good Wisconsin defense as much as it did.

Tom Crean wanted to play Wisconsin man-to-man to take away the perimeter shots. But Wisconsin continually beat Indiana -- especially freshman Troy Williams -- off the dribble, forcing Crean to go back to a zone. When he did, the Badgers buried IU with 3s. It became a case where Wisconsin could pick its poison.

"We had our plan of what we wanted to do on isolations and we didn't get into it a couple times quick enough," Crean said. "We got overpowered a couple of times. They got some good looks because we were in rotation a little bit. They got hot. The basket started looking pretty big for them."

When the Hoosiers (15-12, 5-9 Big Ten) beat Wisconsin at Assembly Hall, they dominated them with dribble penetration and easy baskets in the lane.

This time around, the Badgers were determined not to let that happen. They forced Indiana to do what teams have forced the Hoosiers to do time again (shoot jump shots), and Indiana didn't make enough in the second half. They built a 10-point lead with Will Sheehey, Noah Vonleh and Yogi Ferrell burying shots from the outside. More than half their points (15 of 29) came on 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes.

Wisconsin's reaction: Keep shooting them. I dare you to make more.

To be honest, the result is what we expected, even if the way we go there may not have been. Nobody expected this Indiana team to win in Madison, a place the Hoosiers haven't won in more than 16 years. This was the least winnable game remaining on the schedule.

If anything, Tuesday night provided some small reasons for optimism. The ball constantly found the hands of players that could do something with it, and that hasn't always been the case this season. Ferrell and Vonleh combined for 34 of Indiana's 57 shot attempts, and that's a good sign. Give it to your leaders, your best offensive players, and live and die with them.

Maybe that pays off eventually, and maybe it doesn't. But at this point in the season, it's Indiana's best shot. Top Stories