MADISON, Wis. - Whether the Hoosiers' Big Ten foe is good or bad, IU keeps finding a way to lose ugly on the road.
Four times IU has ventured outside of Assembly Hall since league play opened, and four times they've been whipped soundly. This time it was 72-54 by a Wisconsin team that had lost five of its last six, including two straight at the Kohl Center.
The loss was Indiana's fourth in five games, dropping Mike Davis' team to 13-7 overall and 5-4 in the Big Ten. Wisconsin, meanwhile, ended a three-game Big Ten losing streak and improved to 16-7 and 6-4 in conference play.
"We're not very good on the road - that's it," said IU Coach Mike Davis. "We've had four road games, and they've all been the same. We have guys that play great at home, and guys that don't play well on the road. It's hard to explain."
The loss was just the most recent in a string of bad beats for an IU team that suddenly finds itself gambling with its postseason future. With four more road games to go, coupled with difficult home contests against Iowa and Michigan State, an NCAA bid is far from certain.
Indiana certainly didn't look like an NCAA Tournament team Wednesday, dropping its fourth straight Big Ten road game by double digits.
"(The road has) been a challenge for us all Big Ten season, and it's going to be something that we need to fix quickly," said Marshall Strickland, who finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Indiana had no answers for Alando Tucker, who picked apart the IU defense for 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting. It equaled the most points scored against IU this season, matching the 29 Duke's J.J. Redick scored Nov. 30.
"Offensively he got good looks," said Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan. "He got free on the baseline, he got behind the defense and attacked the gaps. I'm still looking for that perfect game. I'm not trading him, though. He's the one that broke them down inside."
Indiana, meanwhile, offered up little resistance, shooting a season-low 28.6 percent on 16-of-56 shooting. IU's leading scorer, Marco Killingsworth played just 20 minutes due to foul trouble and eventually fouled out with 8:16 remaining. Robert Vaden – IU's leading scorer in road games at 18.1 points/game – went scoreless in the first half for the third straight game before finishing with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
"I told Mike (Davis), ‘we've had some games like this where we didn't knock shots down,'" said Ryan. "Some nights it's not going to come out the bottom of that net."
Davis, meanwhile, was frustrated with more than just the fact his team's shots weren't falling. He spent more than 30 minutes in the locker room with his team after the game before arriving for the postgame press conference, and when he arrived he was obviously flustered with some of the fouls that were called on Killingsworth, who had 14 points and eight rebounds despite his limited action.
"Marco Killingsworth isn't making all those fouls," said Davis. "He's 270 and he's getting pushed around, too. You go back and watch film and see guys grabbing him and pushing him. Maybe he has to run from the play? If he sees someone coming, just run to the other side. That might be what he has to do.
"The first play of the game he posted and had his hands up and got the basketball, and the comment to me was, ‘tell No. 5 to be easy.' What does that mean?"
When IU was preparing for Wednesday night's game, the players had talked about the importance of a quick start in Madison, but that didn't materialize. Instead, Indiana committed seven turnovers in the game's first 10 minutes and found itself down 20-6.
Despite the slow start, Indiana had its chances. After getting in the 14-point hole, Marshall Strickland hit a pair of 3-pointers and Killingsworth added a dunk and a pair of free throws to help IU answer with a 10-0 run to cut the lead to four.
But for the second straight game, Indiana finished the first half poorly with Killingsworth on the bench. After scoring eight points and pulling down seven rebounds in the game's first 14 minutes, Killingsworth picked up his second foul with 6:11 remaining and was forced to the bench. Wisconsin went on an 11-4 run to extend its lead to 11 before a Rod Wilmont 18-footer at the buzzer sent IU into the locker room trailing by nine, 31-22.
On Saturday against UConn, Killingsworth's second foul came at the 6:43 mark, and a nine-point IU lead quickly turned into a five-point deficit by intermission.
Killingsworth and the Hoosiers had a handful of chances to cut into the margin in the second half as well. Killingsworth missed a pair of layups in the opening 1:09 of the second half that would have cut the margin to seven. Soon afterwards, the lead ballooned to 18.
After IU cut the lead to 11 with 11:22 remaining, Tucker scored on a baseline jumper, and Tanner Bronson and Ray Nixon followed with back-to-back 3pointers to cap an 8-0 UW to give the Badgers a 57-38 lead with 9:15 remaining. Killingsworth returned to the floor with four fouls to try to anchor a comeback, but fouled out a minute later.
Wisconsin would eventually extend the lead to as many as 22 before setting for the 18-point win.
Killingsworth 5-10 4-4 14, Wilmont 1-6 0-0 2, Strickland 4-8 2-2 12, Vaden 4-15 2-8 11, Calloway 1-8 8-8 10, Suhr 0-1 0-0 0, Ratliff 0-2 0-0 0, Allen 0-1 2-2 2, Kline 1-3 1-2 3, Monroe 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 16-56 19-26 54.
Chappell 0-0 0-0 0, Tucker 12-20 4-6 29, Nixon 5-8 0-0 13, Flowers 1-5 4-4 6, Taylor 2-10 0-0 5, Barry 0-0 0-0 0, Bronson 1-4 1-3 4, Cain 0-0 0-0 0, Butch 1-1 1-2 4, Gullikson 2-5 3-3 7, Krabbenhoft 1-2 2-3 4. Totals 25-55 15-21 72.
Halftime Score: Wisconsin 31, Indiana 22. 3-Pointers: Indiana 3-16 (Killingsworth 0-1, Wilmont 0-2, Strickland 2-4, Vaden 1-4, Calloway 0-1, Suhr 0-1, Ratliff 0-1, Monroe 0-1), Wisconsin 7-20 (Tucker 1-3, Nixon 3-5, Flowers 0-2, Taylor 1-7, Bronson 1-2, Butch 1-1). Rebounds: Indiana 42 (Vaden 12), Wisconsin 32 (Flowers 7). Assists: Indiana 7 (Calloway 3), Wisconsin 13 (Nixon 3). Turnovers: Indiana 15 (Strickland 5), Wisconsin 10 (Flowers 4). Officials: Donnee Gray, Art McDonald, Tom Clark. Attendance: 17,142.
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