In their third straight loss, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (11-5) lost to Indiana (11-6) by a final score of 63-45 on January 14.
Prior to tipping off at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, the Wisconsin Badgers had a 24-3 record in their previous 27 games against the Indiana Hoosiers, including five straight wins from December 0f 2019 to February 2022. With an identity marked by defensive balance and inside-out, quality shot selection, Greg Gard’s teams typically slow both the game and an opponent’s pace.
Mike Woodson’s Hoosiers certainly mimicked this plan on Saturday afternoon. With 17,222 vociferous fans in attendance, IU absolutely dominated the final 20 minutes of regulation. On nearly every pass attempt, the Hoosiers put heavy pressure on the ball, forcing Wisconsin to rethink entry feeds both low and near the perimeter.
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Whether on tipped balls, deflections, or takeaways, Indiana’s defensive intensity truncated UW’s offensive offense. In fact, most of Wisconsin’s shot attempts arrived late in the shot clock, a by-product of Indiana’s stifling defense.
However, neither team got away during the first half. The two Big Ten foes combined for a total of six points within the first five minutes of regulation, and the biggest difference in scoring was 15-11, Indiana. At halftime, IU had a one-point lead, 21–20, with seven of 10 field goals made in the painted area.
Within just seven minutes of the break, Indiana turned a one-score lead into a 17-point lead. Capped by an impressive feed from Trayce Jackson-Davis to Jordan Geronimo for an and-one layup, IU ran six unanswered field goals after halftime for a 12-0 scoreline. From that point on, Woodson’s squad didn’t falter.
The Hoosiers started the half on 9/11 separated from the field compared to a terrible 1/11 score for the Badgers. UW clawed back with a quick 7-0 sprint, but Indiana’s paint presence proved too overwhelming. On one possession, Steven Crowl pinned Jackson-Davis directly under the hoop. But with seemingly no room to operate, Jackson-Davis pivoted to the right and washed a dunk over Crowl to extend IU’s lead to 18. In other words, he seemed utterly dominant.
Despite only shooting 12.5% from center and pocketing four attempts from the charity streak, the Hoosiers controlled almost every other facet of the game. Without guard Xavier Johnson and forward Race Thompson, IU relied heavily on Jackson-Davis, a team captain and 2022 Second Team All-Big Ten member.
Jackson-Davis recorded a game-high 18 runs, hooked 12 boards and blocked five shot attempts. His teammate, Jordan Geronimo, did a copycat impression of an excellent Dwight Howard. Despite averaging just under six points per game, Geronimo tallied 12 points, scored 11 rebounds and provided infectious energy throughout the game. Geronimo and Jackson-Davis clogged the track, disputing anything going toward the cylinder.
Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino also erupted in the second half. The freshman scored 12 of his 16 points during the closing frame on a series of floaters and midrange jumpers.
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For Wisconsin, Connor Essegian led the team in both scoring and rebounding off the bench. Essegian, who played his high school prom in Albion, Indiana, made three attempts from outside the arc and grabbed 11 rebounds in his home state. Crowl, who averaged about 17 points per appearance over a seven-game span, was limited to just five points short of 25% from the floor, largely due to Jackson-Davis’ Mutombo-like performance.
Max Klesmit scored nine points and grabbed three steals, and Chucky Hepburn added four field goals made in 29 minutes on the hardwood. Again, with Tyler Wahl absent for Wisconsin’s third straight game, UW’s offense suffered.
Looking ahead, Wisconsin returns to the Kohl Center for another conference showdown against Jalen Pickett and the Penn State Nittany Lions on Tuesday, January 17.