Beginning 1 of 8 from the field in the opening six minutes, UW settled for outside shots and ultimately shot itself right out of the game. Shooting a dismal 29 percent over the first 20 minutes, the Badgers experienced two long scoring droughts totaling 10 minutes in which they scored no field goals. The team made no baskets over the final 6:08 of the first half and in all mustered an anemic six field goals and 20 points before halftime.
And the struggles only continued after the break. With a four-and-a-half and a four-minute lapse between buckets to start the second half, the Badgers never found any consistency inside or outside the paint. UW finished with 36 percent shooting for the game and a season-low 16 field goals.
The Badgers were 3 of 18 on the night from 3-point range for a season-low 17 percent.
"We had some good looks and they didn't go down," senior forward Mike Wilkinson said. "But there are nights like that and you just have to find other ways to get it and that's something we didn't do extremely well tonight."
Despite the poor start, Wisconsin did not shy away from the outside shot in the second half. But even with open looks at the basket, no Badger was able to find a rhythm with their jump shot.
"We settled for the jumper early," sophomore forward Alando Tucker said. "That set a tone for our team. We settled. We were hot the game before … and it shows you live by the 3, you die by the 3. We did a lot of things to help beat ourselves."
It was just that kind of night for the Badgers.
After hitting 6 of 8 3-pointers versus Purdue Wednesday, senior forward Zach Morley was 1 of 5 from the field and 0 for 2 from 3-point range. Senior guard Sharif Chambliss, a 46 percent 3-point shooter prior to the game, was 0 of 7 from the field and 0 for 5 from long range.
After their recent success from beyond the arc, the Badgers appeared a little too eager to fire the long shot and in effect prevented the offense from ever getting started in the paint.
"It started off for everyone that that was our first option," Tucker said. "Our first option normally is inside-outside. Our first option today was outside."
Losing the handle
The combination of a strong defensive effort from Indiana and poor decisions by Wisconsin resulted in 18 turnovers for the Badgers. Indiana converted those miscues into 17 points.
In return, the Badgers' defense created only nine turnovers and UW was called for a season-high 27 fouls.
"Our biggest thing tonight was we didn't execute," sophomore guard Kammron Taylor said. "Give credit to their defense, but we just didn't execute what we practiced."
Badgers improve at the line
One thing Wisconsin managed to do well versus the Hoosiers was get to the free throw line and convert those opportunities. The Badgers drew 23 fouls and subsequently attempted 32 free throws on the night, connecting on 26. The Badgers' 81 percent free-throw shooting allowed them to hang around within striking distance for much of the game.
Though they maintained a comfortable lead throughout the second half, Indiana never pulled ahead by more than 16 points.
Badger bench contributes
Lost in the disappointing team performance was the play of sophomore guard Kammron Taylor. With senior point guard Sharif Chambliss struggling mightily, Taylor provided 29 minutes off the bench and scored a career-high 21 points.
He also led the team in free throws attempted (11) and made (10) in the game.
UW defense comes up short
Wisconsin struggled nearly as much defensively as it did offensively Saturday. The Badgers allowed Indiana to shoot 50 percent in the first half and 49 percent for the game. A lot of that had to do with IU junior guard Bracey Wright.
Prior to Saturday Wright had scored just 21 points combined in three previous matchups against the Badgers. Saturday, Wright tallied 30 points on 11 of 22 shooting. Senior guard Clayton Hanson, who has played well defensively this season, had the primary matchup against Wright, but no matter who the Badgers threw at Wright defensively he found his openings and took the ball to the hoop seemingly at will. Wright connected on 7 of 10 from the free throw line as well in being the first player to score 30 in a game this season against Wisconsin.
"He was probably really pumped up for this game," Taylor said. "He took a lot of tough shots and made them and that's what good players do."