A streaky shooting team this year, Wisconsin epitomized that Sunday. Starting out the game 7-for-13, helping them build a 22-10 lead, Wisconsin finished the first half 2-for-13 from the field, including a scoring drought of four minutes, seven seconds and seven consecutive misses. Starting the second half 3-for-12, the Badgers closed the second half 7-for-10 from the field. Overall Wisconsin shot 19-for-48 (39.6 percent) from the field and 4-for-17 (23.5 percent) from three.
Despite going 7-for-10 over the last 10:17 of the game, the Badgers went 5-for-6 over a three minute, 39 seconds stretch. Wisconsin only made two more field goals from the 6:38 mark on but got a lift from the free throw line. UW went 23-for-31 (74.2 percent) overall in the game and 7-for-8 in the last minute.
For the third straight game Ethan Happ led Wisconsin with 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the field and 4-for-7 from the free throw line. Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig finished the game with 15 and 11 points, respectively, on a combined 7-for-22 (31.8 percent) shooting from the field.
While struggling from the field at times, Wisconsin was able to generate 12 second chance opportunities that resulted into nine points. In particular Hayes led Wisconsin with six offensive rebounds and found ways of tipping the ball out to one of his teammates, too. Zak Showalter was the only other player for Wisconsin to register at least two offensive rebounds to help the Badgers win the rebounding battle 33-29.
The ability to reset the offense and attack the glass helped the Badgers scored 28 points in the paint, as the best offense for Wisconsin was getting the ball at the rim to generate high percentage buckets or contact to get them to the free throw line. The Badgers finished the game with nine assists on 19 made field goals.
Wisconsin’s defense was able to make Indiana work for its shots and held the Hoosiers to their second fewest made field goals over Big Ten play (21). After holding the Hoosiers offense to nine field goals in the first half, Wisconsin allowed Indiana to shoot 12-for-22 from the field. Overall Indiana shot 21-for-49 (42.9 percent) and 7-for-20 (35 percent) from three.
With key players for Indiana injured, Wisconsin was going to need to find a way to slow Thomas Bryant down in order to have success. Bryant was effective in the first half with nine points, but the Badgers held him to two points on only two field goal attempts. But containing Bryant allowed other players for Indiana to step up, as Josh Newkirk scored a game-high 22 points. With Bryant being a nonfactor offensively over the last 20 minutes, Newkirk scored 17 of his 22 points on 5-for-10 shooting from the field. Robert Johnson was the only other Hoosier to reach double figures with 11 points but shot 5-for-15 from the field.
Despite Newkirk creating an offensive rhythm, Wisconsin’s defense did its best to take him out of a flow by forcing a team-high five turnovers. Bryant (four second-half turnovers) and Johnson (three) also had ball security issues, resulting in 15 Indiana turnovers that led to 16 Wisconsin points. In particular Wisconsin was able to force the miscues with eight steals, marking the fourth straight game where the Badgers registered at least seven swipes. Five different players for Wisconsin registered a steal led by Happ (three) and Khalil Iverson (two).
Thanks to Hayes, Happ and Koenig, the Badgers were able to consistently hold Indiana’s offense to one shot per possession. Wisconsin’s big three all generated at least four defensive rebounds, as Koenig and Happ each had six. Indiana turned its seven second chance opportunities into 10 points, as Wisconsin’s limiting Indiana in the paint caused the Hoosiers to finish with only 20 points down low.
Wisconsin’s shooting struggles continued for a second straight game but the Badgers can thank its defense in helping limit a talented Indiana offense. With Wisconsin struggling to make a field goal over periods of time, the defense was able to hold Indiana through scoring droughts, too. Indiana’s first made field goal didn’t come until the 14:56 mark of the first half. After Indiana made its first field goal in the second half, the Badgers held Indiana without a field goal for four minutes, 56 seconds.
One of the big contributors for Wisconsin was redshirt freshman Brevin Pritzl off the bench. Playing the final 12:19, Pritzl was strong on both end of the floor, made his only field goal attempt and all four of his free throws. His activeness helped keep offensive possessions alive for Wisconsin. D'Mitrik Trice was responsible for the other three points from Wisconsin’s bench.
Finishing 4-for-14, Hayes shot 28.6 percent from the field for the third time in the last in the last four games but found ways to contribute in other ways. The senior’s 10 rebounds gave him his third double-double of the season (first since the Syracuse game) and he added two assists, one steal and two turnovers.
Game MVP: Ethan Happ. Happ continues his strong play for Wisconsin, as he was the lone consistent scorer after finishing an impressive 80 percent from the field. Missing only one field goal in each half, Happ’s consistency and ability to create on the block was key but he filled the stat sheet like he typically does. Leading 55-50 with 1:37 to go, Happ assisted Showalter from the post for a vital 3-pointer to put the Badgers up eight. Happ’s activeness on the court allowed him to generate scoring opportunities for himself and for his teammates, as he finished with seven rebounds, three blocks, three steals, two assists and three turnovers.