Men's hoops notes: Wright contained

Led by senior guard Clayton Hanson, Badgers slow down Indiana's top scorer

MADISON – Offensively, Tuesday was a rough day for Wisconsin senior guard Clayton Hanson, who failed to score in 36 minutes of play, but Hanson played a key role in the Badgers' victory over Indiana at the Kohl Center here, shutting down the offensive threat of Indiana guard Bracey Wright.

After giving up 30 points to Wright in the teams' meeting in January, Hanson stifled the guard, giving up only one field goal in the first half and limiting him to 13 points in 33 minutes.

Hanson was not alone. Freshman guard Michael Flowers played 15 minutes, and spent a considerable chunk of that time checking Wright, even forcing a 5-second violation late in the first half. Junior forward Ray Nixon, who played three minutes, also defended Wright at times.

For the most part, however, Wright was Hanson's responsibility. UW coach Bo Ryan said Hanson's play was extremely impressive, and rather deserving of the scholarship he inherited when Devin Harris left early for the NBA last spring.

"He did a great job," Ryan said. "That young man works so hard. The only time I'd say that I'm glad Devin went hardship because Clayton at least gets his education paid for this year. He's earned it. In the last game at Indiana it may have looked like Clayton was struggling a little bit but he also wasn't getting the help that we need to get to guys like Bracey Wright. In this game we corrected it."

Tournament atmosphere

It was a hard fought game by both teams, with each showing only fleeting signs of wearing down despite both having played tough games on Sunday.

There was plenty on the line Tuesday, what with Indiana fighting for a berth in the NCAA Tournament and each team battling for third place in the Big Ten.

Bodies hit the floor hard on both sides of the court, with UW sophomore forward Alando Tucker landing with a thud midway through the second half and wincing for a few minutes before warily standing up and walking around before taking a free throw. Indiana freshman forward D.J. White injured his ankle in the final minutes of the second half after colliding with Hanson.

The intensity hit a fever pitch in the second half when an in-bounds pass led to Indiana's Errek Suhr getting tangled up with Badger sophomore guard Kammron Taylor. The two exchanged heated words and some pushing before players from both sides and a referee broke the two apart.

The close game led to little playing time for the Badger bench as four of the Badgers' starting five played 36 minutes each. Flowers had the most minutes off the bench with 15, followed by nine for senior forward Zach Morley, four for senior center Andreas Helmigk and three for Nixon.

Ryan and the team refused to blame their cold shooting late in the game on fatigue, but after playing three games in five days, two of which were on the road, tired legs could have played a factor in the final minutes as shots that Wisconsin normally takes with greater ease, fell short — including from the free throw line.

"I wouldn't say fatigue entered into them [his missed free-throws]," said senior forward Mike Wilkinson, who made 5 of 10 from the line in the final three minutes. "They felt good. I still have all the confidence in the world stepping in there and knocking them down."

If there was any sign the Badgers were fatigued it was masked by the intensity with which they played late in the game. Still, there was no doubt Wisconsin wanted to avoid overtime, even at the formidable Kohl Center.

"They get seven field goals in that stretch," Ryan said. "Fortunately we had one more in us. Think we wanted to see that go into overtime? No way."

"We definitely wanted to end it, wanted to get it over," Tucker said.

Butch back, but not in action: After sitting out since the beginning of February with mononucleosis, freshman forward Brian Butch has been cleared to play again with the team but he did not enter Tuesday's game. Butch has not played since the Badgers' 60-50 loss against Minnesota on Feb. 5.

Notable: The Badgers won back-to-back games for the first time since the Jan. 29 victory over Penn State (76-50) and a Feb. 2 victory over Northwestern, 73-58….

Jaws of the Kohl Center faithful dropped at the end of the first half when a missed jumper by Indiana's sophomore guard Roderick Wilmont led to a highlight-reel one-handed dunk by sophomore forward Pat Ewing Jr.

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