Despite shooting 34.5 percent from the field, the No. 13 Badgers (17-3 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) were able to grind it out to knock the Hoosiers (17-3, 6-1) off of the top of the Big Ten standings and pull into a three-way first place tie in the conference with Michigan State and Purdue.
Indiana didn't fare much better, shooting 33.3 percent in the game, but Hoosiers senior forward D.J. White was able to bully his way to game-highs of 22 points and 17 rebounds.
Wisconsin was able to hold IU freshman guard Eric Gordon, the Big Ten's leading scorer, in check with a stifling defensive performance from Michael Flowers. While Gordon was bothered by a left wrist injury, UW head coach Bo Ryan said Flowers was battling the flu.
Nevertheless, Flowers forced Gordon into a tough start as the freshman guard struggled in the first half, shooting 2-of-7 early on.
"(Flowers) never stepped back and I thought he did a really good job chasing and handling screening situations," Ryan said.
"I really like our defensive effort in trying to get them to take shots that they weren't as comfortable with," he added.
After heading into halftime with a 10-point lead, it appeared as if Wisconsin would break away in the second half, opening with a 16-6 run. The Badgers were in control after Trevon Hughes flipped a behind-the-back pass to Michael Flowers for a reverse lay-up and then Greg Stiemsma converted a bucket to put Wisconsin up 46-26.
Then Indiana stormed right back.
Gordon caught fire midway through the second half, going on a 10-0 run himself and knocking down two long 3-pointers. White added five points of his own as Indiana answered with a 17-2 run to cut the score to 48-43 with 7:24 remaining.
But Indiana just couldn't keep it going, and Wisconsin was able to hold on.
"It seemed like every time we had a chance to get the lead down to six or five, we couldn't finish," Sampson said.
From there on, Wisconsin was able to convert at the charity stripe – shooting 10 of 13 from the free throw line down the stretch – and hold on for the win.
But the key for Wisconsin was Joe Krabbenhoft's tenacity on the offensive boards. He pulled 12 rebounds – six of which came on the offensive side of the floor. And most of them came down stretch of the game.
Krabbenhoft grabbed the game's last four offensive rebounds, including a tip-in of Jason Bohannon's missed 3-pointer with 3:55 left in the game.
Krabbenhoft's play certainly caught the eye of Sampson, who said the junior forward was one of the biggest influences on the game's outcome.
"That Krabbenhoft kid, I really like him. Kids like him are invaluable to your team," Sampson said. "It seems that kids like him always make the right play and make the key play."
Krabbenhoft simply said he was lucky -- in the right place at the right time.
"Good bounces, that's really what it is," he said. "Sometimes the ball comes my way."
Wisconsin avoided losing two consecutive games for the first time this season.
"One of the main things this game showed tonight is how we can respond from a tough loss. We could have hung our heads and got down on ourselves for dropping down in the race in the Big Ten," Krabbenhoft said. "We looked at each other in the eye and said we're right back in it."