How it Happened
Indiana (18-15) came out continuing the hot shooting from beyond the arc that led it to a win against Iowa. James Blackmon Jr. opened the IU scoring with a contested triple that hit nothing but the bottom of the net and Robert Johnson followed with a pull-up 3 in transition off a Badger turnover. The Hoosiers trailed early though, thanks in large part to Nigel Hayes, who scored six points to stake Wisconsin to a 8-6 lead just over four minutes in. More troubling for Indiana was Thomas Bryant picking up two fouls and exiting the game at the under-16 timeout.
Wisconsin (24-8) extended its lead to as many as five, but the Hoosiers battled back, doing solid work on the glass. Indiana evened the score with 13:35 to play in the first half when Juwan Morgan grabbed an offensive rebound and laid the ball back in to make it 13-13. It was the second offensive board of the possession and sixth of the game for IU, which held a 10-1 lead in second-chance points at that juncture.
The timeout didn't stop the IU momentum as Blackmon Jr. continued his excellent play in the tournament. The junior guard scored five straight points after the stoppage to give the Hoosiers a 18-16 lead, giving him 10 points already in the game on 4-for-5 shooting. The mini run included a long 3-pointer from up top, his second of the night. He and Robert Johnson (six points) combined for 16 of Indiana's first 18 in the game.
The teams traded baskets as the first half wore on. Blackmon Jr. went to the bench and the Hoosiers went cold from the field, missing eight of nine shots during one stretch and not scoring for over three minutes. The drought allowed Wisconsin plenty of chances to re-take the lead and it finally did when forward Vitto Brown hit a midrange jumper to put his team in front 23-22 with 7:13 to go in the half. Minutes later, Brown added a triple to extend the UW lead to six and make it a 9-0 Wisconsin run.
The Wisconsin defense continued to hold the clamps on the Hoosiers in the half's final minutes. With just under two minutes to play, the Badgers had two of their best defensive possessions on back-to-back IU trips down the floor, forcing two straight shot clock violations. Morgan made a huge play on IU's second-to-last possession of the half, driving hard to the basket and scoring through a foul after almost losing the ball on the way there. He hit the free throw as well to cut IU's deficit to 33-27 at the break.
Indiana trailed by just six at halftime despite shooting 35 percent from the field while Wisconsin poured in 50 percent of its shots; IU went 3-for-15 down the stretch in the half. It was a smoothly-played half overall as the teams combined for just 12 turnovers and nine fouls. Blackmon Jr. led all scorers with 10 points, but Wisconsin controlled the tempo, holding an IU team that had scored 95 points in two straight games to just 27.
Wisconsin continued to shoot it well as the second half began. Bronson Koenig and D'Mitrik Trice both hit 3-pointers before the under-16 timeout, allowing the Badgers to build up a 41-33 lead despite a couple of tough baskets from Morgan and Johnson. The lead hit a game-high 14 for UW when big man Ethan Happ scored in close with 13:54 to play. The layup capped a 9-0 Badger run that took just 1:49 and forced Indiana to call a timeout.
The Hoosiers battled back and got the lead to within single digits, but Wisconsin pulled away again soon after. 3-pointers on consecutive possessions from Showalter and Trice ballooned the UW lead to 15 at 57-42 and led to another IU timeout. The triples put both Showalter and Trice in double figures in the scoring column, the fourth and fifth Badgers to reach that plateau in the game.
With their season on the line, Indiana didn't stop fighting. 3-pointers from Robert Johnson and Devonte Green kept the Hoosiers in it, sandwiched around a nifty Happ layup on the other end in traffic to make it 61-53 in favor of the Badgers with just 4:29 to go.
Koenig drilled a huge 3 with 2:23 to go that extended UW's lead to 11 and put Indiana's back against the wall. With less than two minutes to go, though, Blackmon Jr. drove to the basket for a layup and Morgan followed with a layup of his own through a foul. IU forced a turnover on Wisconsin's next possession and it had a chance, down 64-57 with 1:29 remaining.
After a long quiet stretch mid-game, Blackmon Jr. stepped up when IU needed it, hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key with a hand in his face that had an extremely high degree of difficulty. When the shot went through, the Hoosiers had sliced the Wisconsin lead to just four.
In the final seconds, though, Indiana couldn't get a stop when it needed it. Koenig scored to increase the lead back to six and Johnson turned the ball over on IU's next time down the floor. When Showalter made a pair of free throws, the Hoosier deficit was eight and the Badgers coasted home.
Player(s) of the Game-Bronson Koenig and Ethan Happ
Those two players seemingly made every big shot for the Badgers.
Koenig was difficult to guard all night and consistently opened lanes for Wisconsin drivers and post feeds as Indiana defenders kept an eye on him. He went 6-for-12 from the field, including 4-for-7 from beyond the 3-point line. He also added five assists to his total and was a force on defense, as well, racking up three steals.
The big man stuffed the stat sheet, putting up his ninth double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds. He shot 7-for-9 from the field, but it was on defense where he really excelled, making life difficult in the post for IU big men Bryant and De'Ron Davis all night. The pair shot 1-for-10 from the field combined, one night after Davis had gone had a perfect 7-for-7 against Iowa.
Indiana has never won the Big Ten Tournament and has lost four straight to Wisconsin...Blackmon Jr.'s 17 points give him 1,224 for his career, moving him past Tom Coverdale and Steve Downing for 33rd on the all-time IU scoring list; he's seventh among players who have played in the 21st century; he went nearly 25 minutes of game time without scoring, spanning the first and second halves...the Hoosiers came in leading the Big Ten and ninth in the country in average rebounding margin at plus-7.6 and outrebounded Wisconsin 36-33; the Badgers rank 21st in the country in the same statistic...Wisconsin also came in ranked 10th in the country in scoring defense, giving up just 61.6 points per game...the Hoosiers blocked six shots