Big second half sparks Badgers over Indiana
Five score in double figures in 69-58 win
MADISON — Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan told his team at halftime to just do its thing. He told Sam Dekker during one huddle to make his presence felt.
In other words, there was no need to panic.
No. 14 Wisconsin did just that in shrugging off a slow start to beat Indiana 69-58 on Tuesday night behind Dekker’s 16 points.
“I kept asking him to make sure that the people who bought the seats knew he was in the gym,” Ryan said. “I thought it was a good suggestion.”
Like the rest of the Badgers, Dekker struggled in the first half, when the Hoosiers (15-12, 5-9 Big Ten) held Wisconsin (23-5, 10-5) to its lowest point production of the season.
But down 29-19 at halftime, the turnaround was immediate for the Badgers. They outscored Indiana 9-2 over the first 3 minutes of the second half as the shots started to fall.
That was a sign of things to come as the Badgers shot 62 percent in the second half after hitting just 26 percent of their shots in the opening half.
That included going 6 of 11 from 3-point range after making just 1 of 10 in the first half. “He kind of put it into me to play hard, play aggressive and when you do that, good things happen,” said Dekker, who was 1 for 3 in the first half but hit all four of his shots in the second. He also hit all five of his free throws.
Ben Brust, the Badgers’ best outside threat, was 0 for 4 from behind the 3-point line in the first half. But when he followed a 3 by Dekker with two of his own to cut Indiana’s lead to one and that seemed to ignite the Badgers. They later used a 22-5 run to put the game away. Traevon Jackson scored 14 points for the Badgers, Brust added 12, Josh Gasser 11 and Frank Kaminsky had 10 points and nine rebounds.
“I knew it was only a matter of time. I knew it was going to start, so I was like can it just start now?” Brust said. “I’m still looking at that 3 for 10 (from the field). I know I can do better than that. But it’s good to get a couple to go down. It ignited this team.”
For Indiana, it was another blown double-digit lead. This one was more of a slow burn compared to losing to Penn State at home two weeks ago after leading by 12 points with just over 3 minutes to go. A few late scores helped Indiana finish a respectable 42 percent from the field for the game. That included nine points from Yogi Ferrell in the final 90 seconds. But after Indiana’s Stanford Robinson converted a three-point play with more than 14 minutes to go, the Hoosiers managed just five points over the next 11 minutes as the Badgers pulled away.
Indiana coach Tom Crean said the Hoosiers over-helped on defense in the second half and didn’t do as a good a job guarding the dribble. “The bottom line is they got some good looks. They got hot and the basket starting looking pretty big for them,” Crean said.
Ferrell scored 24 points to lead Indiana, while freshman Noah Vonleh added 18. The Hoosiers average making 15 free throws a game, but only took three Tuesday, hitting two. Wisconsin, meanwhile, was 22 of 24 from the line, a disparity that was boosted by Indiana fouling in the final minutes.
The Hoosiers were whistled for six fouls in the final 2 minutes that Wisconsin turned into 11 free throws on 12 attempts. Still, Wisconsin committed just seven fouls, compared to 20 for the Hoosiers, who had one player foul out and two finish with four fouls.
Ryan said the Hoosiers took a lot of outside shots, while the Badgers were able to stay down defensively when Indiana attacked the rim. “I thought we were very disciplined on defense,” Ryan said. “That’s how you keep teams from the free throw line.”
The Badgers also took care of the ball, committing just three turnovers for the game, one in the second half as Indiana turned up the pressure down the stretch in an attempt to get back into the game.