No. 18 Wisconsin and Indiana will enter Saturday’s Big Ten Conference matchup in Bloomington, Ind. in a shaky frame of mind after discouraging mid-week conference losses.
Playing without leading scorer Tyler Wahl, the Badgers controlled most of Tuesday night’s home date with Michigan State but were outscored 15-6 over the last 3:53 to lose 69-65. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers were blown out 85-66 on Wednesday evening at Penn State for their third straight defeat.
Wisconsin owned a 27-2 advantage in points off turnovers and outscored the Spartans 30-26 in the paint, but couldn’t get stops at the end. Michigan State converted its last eight shots and scored 17 points in its final 10 possessions.
“Didn’t execute the last 10 possessions of the game on both ends of the floor like we have in the past,” said Badgers coach Greg Gard.
“We should have been able to close that out,” said forward Steven Crowl. “And that’s on all of us. It’s not one or two people. All of us did little things down the stretch that didn’t help us. I do think we should have won the game.”
Instead, Wisconsin fell to 11-4 overall and 3-2 in the conference. It also doesn’t know if Wahl, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, will be able to go. Wahl averages 13.2 points and 6.4 rebounds.
The Badgers will turn to Crowl and Chucky Hepburn for more offense. Hepburn scores 13 ppg with a team-high 3.4 assists, while Crowl contributes 12.9 ppg and a team-high 6.6 rebounds. With Wahl unavailable, Crowl has pumped in nearly 19 ppg in the last three games on 54.2 percent shooting.
As for Indiana, its season might be, with apologies to a book from the mid-1980s that focused on former coach Bob Knight, on the brink. The Hoosiers (10-6, 1-4) can’t stop anyone and really miss a pair of sidelined starters, Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson.
Penn State peppered Indiana from deep, canning 18 of 31 3-pointers and finishing the game at 54.2 percent from the field. The Hoosiers forced just five turnovers and allowed more than 1.3 points per possession.
“There were times we did things we never even talked about doing in our scouting, our walkthrough, our practice,” said Indiana coach Mike Woodson. “And you just shake your head and say, ‘Why did you do that?’
“And those are the things, when they add up, they beat you. And tonight, we had no shot with all the 3s that we gave up. We never touched anybody physically, man. We just didn’t.”
The Hoosiers have struggled against opponents’ 3-point shooting, giving up a Big Ten-worst 35.2 percent. During their losing streak, they have allowed 32 3-point makes.
“You got to get up one more step and make them put the ball down, and we just weren’t doing that,” Woodson said after the Penn State loss.
Trayce Jackson-Davis leads the team with 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Jalen Hood-Schifino chips in 13.2 ppg and 4.5 assists.
–Field Level Media