Maybe Tom Crean's team just finished off a really bad week of basketball on Saturday.
Or, perhaps the Hoosiers have run headfirst into the proverbial wall and the season just continued its downward spiral.
The answer to which one is the case won't be clear for several more weeks, but there weren't many things in Indiana's 83-55 loss to Wisconsin at the Kohl Center that suggested an IU upswing is coming anytime soon.
Just three days removed from an uninspired 69-52 homecourt loss to Ohio State, Indiana turned in an equally uninspired performance while getting beaten at the Kohl Center for the ninth straight time. Wisconsin (19-6/9-4) got seven 3-pointers and a career-high 30 points from Jason Bohannon while staying within one game of the Big Ten lead and improving to 52-1 at home against unranked Big Ten teams.
The loss was the sixth straight for the Hoosiers, who dropped to 9-15 overall and 3-9 in the Big Ten.
"We have a real confidence issue right now in the sense of playing through anything that is even remotely tough to us right now," IU Coach Tom Crean said.
Indiana headed into the game knowing there were a few things it couldn't do against a Wisconsin team that has managed to stay in the Big Ten title chase despite the loss of leading scorer Jon Leuer to a broken wrist a month ago. By the time the final horn sounded, it was clear Indiana had failed on every front.
After falling behind big early in each of its last two games, the Hoosiers couldn't have that happen again Saturday. But 3-pointers from Trevon Hughes and Bohannon plus a five-foot jumper from Jordan Taylor gave the Badgers an 8-0 lead less than two minutes in.
The Hoosiers also couldn't afford to let Hughes get untracked after a 4-of-16 shooting performance Tuesday against Illinois that included an 0-of-8 effort in the game's second half. Instead, Hughes scored all 16 of his points in the first half, helping Wisconsin build a 22-point lead at halftime, 46-24.
Playing against the nation's best team as far as taking care of the basketball, Indiana also knew it couldn't turn it over with regularity. Instead, the Hoosiers turned it over 10 times in the first half and 21 times overall, resulting in a 29-8 Wisconsin edge in points off turnovers.
There was very little additional dissecting that was needed afterwards, other than to say it was too easy for Wisconsin. Bo Ryan's team did whatever it wanted whenever it wanted, while the Hoosiers could do nothing to keep the game competitive. The end result was a 28-point drubbing that was Indiana's most lopsided loss of the season and its worst loss to Wisconsin since a 79-45 setback in 2004.
"We're not keeping the dribble in front of us right now, and that's why we're trying to play different things defensively," Crean said. "We're not helping with a purpose. But again, it was there a short time ago and we have made some teams shoot it not as well as they're accustomed to. This time we didn't do that at all."
Christian Watford led Indiana with 15 points, while the flu-ridden Verdell Jones was the only other IU player in double figures with 11 points. While Jones was nearly four points below his season average, Crean was impressed with Jones' play considering how sick he's been since the Ohio State game.
"He got on that plane yesterday, and I look at that as a very courageous effort," Crean said. "He was take IVs up until 10:30 this morning. He went out there and played 33 minutes and played very hard and tried to do things. I'm proud of the way he went out there and tried to battle through this."
But Jones' play was about all of the fight that Indiana showed on Saturday.
In the wake of Wednesday's lackluster performance against Ohio State, Crean tried to lift his team's spirits and lighten the mood by giving the team the day off on Thursday. He said the team had responded well in practice, but it didn't show Saturday.
Now he has to try to find the right buttons to push to get his team ready for its next daunting challenge – a Tuesday night home game on national television against Big Ten leader Michigan State.
"We've got to get our mo-jo back, that toughness that we had, and that we've definitely shown throughout the year, even as recently as a week and a half ago in the Purdue game and in the Illinois game and in the Penn States and Minnesotas," Crean said. "But it's not there right now."
Watford 4-12 7-8 15, Pritchard 1-1 0-2 2, Hulls 3-5 0-0 8, Rivers 2-2 0-0 4, Jones 4-12 2-2 11, Capobianco 1-2 0-0 2, Moore 3-4 1-2 7, Elston 2-4 0-0 4, Jobe 0-1 0-0 0, Muniru 0-0 1-2 1, Barnett 0-0 0-0 0, Finkelmeier 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-43 11-16 55.
Jarmusz 1-3 0-0 2, Nankivil 4-8 1-1 9, Hughes 5-11 4-4 16, Taylor 5-13 0-0 11, Bohannon 11-16 1-2 30, Bruesewitz 1-2 0-0 2, Wilson 1-2 2-2 4, Berggren 0-1 0-0 0, Evans 3-5 0-1 6, Smith 1-2 1-1 3, Valentyn 0-0 0-0 0, Gavinski 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-63 9-11 83.
3-Pointers: Indiana 4-7 (Hulls 2-3, Jones 1-1, Capobianco 1-2, Watford 0-1), Wisconsin 10-25 (Bohannon 7-11, Hughes 2-7, Taylor 1-4, Jarmusz 0-2, Wilson 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 26 (Rivers 4), Wisconsin 33 (Bruesewitz 7). Assists: Indiana 10 (Rivers 5), Wisconsin 18 (Taylor 3, Bohannon 3, Nankivil 3). Turnovers: Indiana 21, Wisconsin 10. Blocks: Indiana 0, Wisconsin 3 (Bohannon, Nankivil, Evans). Steals: Indiana 4, Wisconsin 8.
Hoosiers' Tailspin Continues in Madison
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