After another subpar performance in the crunch, the button is starting to glow and its beaming cardinal red.
Despite a three-point buzzer-beater by Jordan Taylor to send the game into overtime, the Badgers were a first-hand witness to Iowa delivering the big shots in extra frame, sending UW to a disappointing 73-69 overtime loss Wednesday night.
"We have to find leaders on the court and not let up," Taylor said. "We have a lot of talent on this team, but we aren't showing it."
With three seconds left in regulation and the Badgers down three, Wisconsin used its last time out to draw up an attempt by Jason Bohannon. With Iowa's double coverage blanketing Bohannon, Tim Jarmusz was forced to send a lob pass to a wide-open Taylor, who buried his first three-pointer of the season, a 25-foot buzzer-beater, to starve off the upset for the time being.
"I had a clear look at the basket and Coach stressed that and to make sure we give ourselves a chance," said Taylor. "It felt good and luckily it dropped. Unfortunately, we couldn't close it out."
Overtime was a different story for both squads. Wisconsin (12-6, 3-3 Big Ten) played the overtime period without senior Joe Krabbenhoft and sophomore Jon Leuer, both of whom fouled out in regulation, and suffered because of it. The Badgers shot 3-of-9 (33 percent) from the field in the extra frame and scored only nine points, five of which came from the hand of Taylor.
Taylor finished the game with a career-high 10 points while registering three assists and zero turnovers, most of which coming after replacing Hughes after the junior committed his third turnover with 5:05 left in the second half.
Hughes finished 4-for-10 shooting for 10 points, three turnovers and no assists, as he spent the last 10 minutes, five seconds of the game on the bench in favor of Taylor.
"Call it whatever you want," Ryan said after the game about Hughes not playing. "Coaches do what we do and there's no reason to tell why someone wasn't in the game."
On the other hand, Iowa, the conference's second-worst scoring offense at 62.3 points per game, went a perfect 3-for-3 from the field in overtime (including two three pointers) and went 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
"We've just been giving up some easy baskets and some big baskets for the other team," said senior Kevin Gullikson, who scored four points in his first career start, replacing Keaton Nankivil. "They hit some tough shots, but we're going to get ready for the next one."
Iowa outscored the Badgers 26-8 from the foul line, the third game this season where UW failed to reach double-digit made free throws, in a game that saw 14 ties and seven lead changes.
"Some of that was a result of us playing from behind," Ryan said. "But the rest is pretty obvious. They hit some big shots, Peterson was good with the ball, but the free throws were pretty obvious."
The loss sent Wisconsin on its first three-game losing streak for the first time since 2006 and cost the Badgers a golden opportunity to gain ground in the conference race, as Northwestern upset No.7 Michigan State in East Lansing to give the Spartans their first conference loss.
Iowa (12-7, 2-4 Big Ten) had all the momentum on its side after erasing a seven-point lead and standing by as Ryan was given his first technical of the season, complaining about a questionable no-call after Taylor was blocked from behind by Iowa's Aaron Fuller.
"I didn't jump up, I didn't get out of the box, I didn't do anything," Ryan said about his technical. "I just signaled to my coaches and pointed back, saying, ‘Can you believe he wasn't fouled?' I will go to a bat for a player anytime."
Starting with Jeff Peterson making the two free throws to tie the score at 49 with 2:51 on the clock, the Hawkeyes made eight consecutive free throws, nullifying any progress the Badgers seemed to make on the scoreboard.
With the Iowa lead at five with 26 seconds left, the Hawkeye opened the door. It started with Matt Gatens going 1-for-2 from the line, allowing Marcus Landry to hit a jumper to 59-57 with 10 seconds left. With a chance to ice the game, Peterson missed his first free throw, setting the stage for Taylor's heroics regulation heroics.
Peterson atoned for his missed free throw in overtime, scoring six of his 16 points in the extra frame. The star of the game for the Hawkeyes, however, was David Palmer. Averaging 3.6 points per game entering the night, Palmer's career-high 21 points were a big lift for Iowa, who missed his third straight game without leading rebounder Cyrus Tate (high ankle sprain) and first without its second leading scorer Anthony Tucker (academically ineligible).
After scoring 20 points in the first half, Iowa scored 49 points in the second half, its highest one-half output since December 9th.
"It was a rough night for all of us," said Bohannon, as the Iowa native shot just 2-for-9 from the field. "We had some looks, we had a chance and we just didn't capitalize. There be nights where you might be a little cold, but you have to find other ways to win."
With the Badgers having only one day to prepare before traveling to second place Illinois (16-3), Wisconsin's players know they have to get back to their defense roots, as the Badgers realize that each loss pushed them further from a conference crown and closer to the button.
"We've got to get grittier on defense," Taylor said. "We've got to do a better job getting stops. We've lost two Big Ten games that we should have won and that hurts."