Game MVP - D.J. White. IU's big man played like a senior is supposed to in a hostile environment. In a head-to-head match-up against Brian Butch, White scored 22 points and pulled down 17 rebounds and left no doubt who the best player was on the floor. The problem was White got unusually little help from Eric Gordon (10 of Gordon's 16 points came during a three-minute second half spurt) and virtually none from anyone else offensively. White finished 7-of-13 from the floor, while the rest of the team was a combined 11-of-41. White also finished 8-of-10 at the free-throw line, while the rest of the team combined for only two free-throw attempts. As good as White was, he couldn't go into the Kohl Center and single-handedly lift the Hoosiers to a victory.
Biggest Surprise… Wisconsin shot 34.5 percent from the floor…missed 17 of 20 3-point attempts…was out-rebounded…and beat the 11th-ranked team in the country by 13 points. It's almost unfathomable to think a team could struggle that badly from the floor, not make it up on the boards, and still find a way to win comfortably, but that's what Bo Ryan's team did. How? With a stellar job defensively, by getting to the free-throw line and by taking care of the basketball. Wisconsin turned the ball over only six times Thursday, including an error-free first 14 minutes of the game that helped them to a 23-12 lead. Down the stretch, Wisconsin made 10-of-13 free-throw attempts over the game's final 6:24 to secure the win. That formula is one that Sampson has preached as well, but IU was turnover prone early and was never able to get to the free-throw line on a consistent basis.
What I Found Most Impressive… Indiana's 17-2 run that cut a 20-point deficit to five with 7:24 remaining. The Hoosiers appeared to be headed to an embarrassing loss early in the second half before it mounted a furious rally to make it a game. Gordon started things off with a dominant three-minute spurt, going on a personal 10-0 run with a couple of deep 3-pointers, a hard drive to the basket for a lay-up and a couple of free throws. D.J. White capped the run with a conventional 3-point play and a six-foot jumper in the lane to make things interesting down the stretch. Ultimately, IU was unable to extract itself from the cavernous hole it had dug in the game's first 27 minutes, but it does deserve some for not throwing in the towel.
What I Found Most Concerning… Everyone on the IU roster not named D.J. White or Eric Gordon combined for 11 points. It's clear that Gordon and White are going to be the two primary offensive weapons on most nights for the Hoosiers, but their abilities are supposed to create opportunities for everyone else on the roster as well. Whether the opportunities weren't there or those other players didn't seize their opportunities, the end result was a woeful night for the team's complementary scorers. White and Gordon combined to go a respectable 13-of-27 from the floor, but the rest of team was a head-scratching 5-of- 27. Armon Bassett entered the game having hit 13-of-16 3-point attempts during the last three games, but missed all five of his attempts from behind the arc. Lance Stemler got six good looks from deep as well and managed to convert only one. Jordan Crawford, meanwhile, missed all four of his shots and had his second scoreless game in his last four outings. It might have simply been a perfect storm of off nights for those players, but Indiana is going to need some consistent scoring production from others on the roster if it's going to win a Big Ten title. D.J. White figures to continue to command double teams and Gordon will draw multiple defenders as well, and the other players on the floor need to be ready to capitalize on the opportunities they'll get as a result.
Turning Point: After opening a 10-point halftime lead, Wisconsin put together a 16-6 run in the first seven minutes of the second half to blow the game wide open. Brian Butch scored on a lay-up and then rained in a 3-pointer during the early spurt, and Trevon Hughes brought the Kohl Center crowd to its feet with a behind-the-back pass to Michael Flowers that pushed the lead to 16. Back-up center Greg Stiemsma got in the mix as well, blocking DeAndre Thomas on one end of the floor and then putting back a Hughes miss to give UW a 46-26 lead. Indiana, meanwhile, missed six of its first eight shots in the second half. Indiana did eventually whittle the lead to five, but its slow start to the second half landed Sampson's team in too deep of a hole.
"It was a very offensively challenged game." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson
"It seemed like every time we had a chance to get it down to six or five, the Krabbenhoft kid…would make a play." – Sampson
"I'm disappointed we lost, but not disappointed in our effort." - Sampson
"The Flowers kid is tough. They guarded (Gordon) well. He had a hard time going to his left, obviously, and they kept sitting on his right hand. I thought Eric played hard. He had to work for just about everything he had. The thing he has to start getting a little bit better at…is getting back to the free-throw line more. He can. This team needs Eric to get to the free-throw line more." – Sampson said
"(Gordon) was basically a one-route player tonight. But it didn't affect his shooting. Wisconsin did a good job guarding him." – Sampson.
"I thought we got a lot of good looks. Armon Bassett goes 0-for-5, he's shooting 55 percent from the 3-point line coming into this game, and everyone of his looks was pretty clean. Lance Stemler, everyone of his looks was maybe too open." – Sampson
Upon Further Review - Wisconsin
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