Amber Searls; USA Today

Hoosiers go cold against Wisconsin

After two consecutive high-flying games, Indiana's offense sputtered against one of the best defensive teams in the country.

Indiana entered its Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal game against Wisconsin having scored at least 95 points in two straight games, shooting nearly 60 percent combined in those two contests.

Against the Badgers, the Hoosiers ran into a brick wall offensively, scoring just 60 points on 41 percent shooting from the field in a 70-60 loss. It was the third time in three games between the two teams that Wisconsin had held Indiana, which averages 80 points per game, to less than 70 points.

"We didn't make the shots," Coach Tom Crean said. "But we were right there. We were getting it in the paint. We also missed some jumpers we would make. I think we got a little frustrated because we didn't make the close shots. It is what it is."

The game started out well enough on offense for Indiana. With 12:11 to go in the first half, the Hoosiers were in front 18-16 and guards James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson had combined for 16 points. 

The game turned after the under-12 media timeout. At that point, Blackmon Jr. sat down to rest and he never really got going again. After a 4-for-5 start from the floor, he was just 3-for-7 the rest of the night. Indiana scored only nine points the rest of the first half, none coming from either Blackmon Jr. or Johnson. The duo who had been so essential to building an early lead was held without a point for a 13:23 stretch. 

"They slowed us down a lot and I was out of the rhythm of the game for a while," said Blackmon Jr. who went nearly 25 minutes of game time between baskets for one stretch.

Johnson, who finished with 13 points on 5-for-13 from the field, echoed his teammate's comments about the speed of the game being a factor in the loss of rhythm.

"We know they played a slower pace and we did a bad job of speeding them up on defense, trying to do things to make them play faster than they wanted to," the junior guard said. "Ultimately, they played their pace more than we played ours."

Freshman guard Devonte Green was one of the few players to have a successful second half, scoring eight points on 2-for-4 from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the 3-point line. He admitted too that Wisconsin's defense made it difficult go get going.

"They pressured us a lot, we just turned the ball over a couple of times and they packed the defense together," said Green, who had his first back-to-back double digit games of the season in the two games of the tournament.

Wisconsin has made a habit of shutting down good offensive teams this season. The Badgers rank ninth in the country in Ken Pomeroy's defensive efficiency rankings, holding opponents to just 91.7 points per 100 possessions. In three games against Indiana this season, Wisconsin held the Hoosiers to an average of just 62.7 points per game.

Wisconsin Coach Greg Gard recognized how hot Indiana had been coming into the game and what it meant to slow the Hoosiers down.

"[We] really did a terrific job...defensively, other than a couple breakdowns here or there, to be able to try to keep Indiana under control with what they can do offensively to teams was evident here and yesterday with what they did to Iowa in the second half, Ohio State at the end of the regular season," Gard said.


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