Bloomington- The Hurryin' Hoosiers made a brief appearance Thursday night at Assembly Hall, but the blast from the past quickly came to an end as the Wisconsin Badgers pulled away and won 68-51.
The game started out with the Hoosiers pushing the ball up the floor, resulting in several buckets in transition.
Bo Ryan admitted his team wasn't getting back on defense, and that was what allowed the Hoosiers to get those transition points early.
"I think we got caught that way," Ryan said.
When the Hoosiers weren't able to get fast-break points, they made a conscious effort to get the ball inside early in the shot clock. Indiana made nine shots in the paint, good for 18 points. When they got to the line, they converted, making good on all five of their first half free throws.
Even though the Hoosiers got off to a quick start, the Badgers were able to trade punches with them, never allowing Indiana to get out to more than a five-point lead. Indiana shot 50 percent in the half, making 12 of 24 shots. The Badgers shot just 39 percent from the field, but were aided by four 3-pointers that allowed them keep pace with the Hoosiers, who made just one.
"We were right there and we were in it and we were doing some good things," said Tom Crean.
The second half, however, was an entirely different story.
Indiana scored just four points in the first nine minutes of the second half, and it took almost 16 minutes for the Hoosiers to score their 12th point. The Hoosiers went ten minutes during one second half stretch without a field goal as Wisconsin used stifling defense to prevent Indiana from going back to what was successful early on.
"In the second half when you shoot that percentage (Wisconsin shot 60 percent in the second half…and you don't have a lot of turnovers, the other team is not going to get a whole lot in transition," Ryan said.
The Hoosiers scored just four points in the paint in the second half, and took plenty of contested shots. The Badgers used their size advantage to make it difficult for Indiana to get the good looks it got in the first half.
"They got back in transition defense better. I thought in the first half, they were jogging back some and we got some easy layups like that. I think in the second half, it was my fault too - I didn't push the ball like I should have," IU freshman Verdell Jones, III said.
A clearly frustrated Crean was very frank in discussing his team's second half play.
"I don't think we competed or played well in the second half," he said. "Our defense really let us down. And there is really nothing in the second half that we can hang our hat on. We were much different than the first half and they exposed that. They did an excellent job taking advantage of that.
"Our communication broke down and we took some quick shots and got a little bit away from what works for us and they made shots."
When asked if he wants his team to forget about Thursday night's game, Crean said he wanted them to remember it. "I don't want them to forget what it feels like in any of these games, because I'm not forgetting," he said. "We just have to do what we need to do to put the most competitive team on the floor on Saturday against the one of the most competitive teams in America."
Indiana has less than 40 hours to get ready for Saturday's 2 p.m. match-up with Purdue, which is still in contention for a Big Ten title. It's the only regular season match-up between the two rivals.
"I think we're thirsty to redeem ourselves. Purdue is an in-state rival and we definitely want to go up there and give them our all. We'll prepare tomorrow for them and just come out and give it our best," Jones said.
Two Halves Better Than One
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