Despite being up by five points with four minutes left, the Hoosiers failed to build on their late lead and put away the game. This led No. 15 Wisconsin to escape with the 74-69 win.
Indiana was only able to score four points in the last four minutes of the game and allowed the Badgers to go on a 13-4 run. The Hoosiers’ inability to score in crunch time doomed them. Indiana missed nine out of their final ten shots down the stretch, and Wisconsin went on an 8-0 run over the last 1:40 of the game.
Xavier Johnson missed two shots in the final two minutes as part of a miserable 3-of-16 night from the field.
“You know, X (Xavier Johnson), he had shots; didn’t make them. We just couldn’t make shots coming down the stretch,” claimed head coach Mike Woodson.
For most of the game, Trayce Jackson-Davis returned to his normal form and dominated the paint. He led the Hoosiers in scoring with 30 points on a very efficient 10-for-13 shooting night with eight rebounds and three blocks.
The forward also showed his playmaking abilities out of the double-team. He ended the game with a new career-high in assists with six. He connected and played “buddy ball” on multiple occasions with Race Thompson, and found Trey Galloway on a backdoor cut with a no-look pass.
However, during the closing minutes, the star player deferred to his supporting cast for a crucial score instead of taking the game over.
Down by two, the Hoosiers fed Jackson-Davis the ball to tie up the game. When the double-team swarmed him, he passed it to a wide-open Xavier Johnson, who missed the potential go-ahead score.
“I thought the play before that X took the three, you know, I thought big fella was in a good position to make the play, but he threw it out to X because he thought X was open on the three-point line,” said Woodson.
“At that point, we just got to put it on the officials to make the call and we didn’t, so it’s a tough game.”
The Hoosiers would get one more chance to tie the game down three. However, they failed to execute the out-of-bounds play. Then Parker Stewart forced up a very contested three. The shot bricked against the rim and bounced out.
“He was supposed to go through like an elevator screen and then it was supposed to be a double for Miller, but they were just switching every screen, so it’s really hard whenever everyone is switching and you need a three, so a cut to the basket isn’t really going to work for you,” explained Jackson-Davis.
“So that was a good play by them, but at the same time, we probably could have got a better shot than that.”
Throughout the first half, the defense was able to hold NBA prospect Johnny Davis in check. He ended the half with 11 on 4-of-5 shooting but did not make his usual impact on the game.
However, when the Hoosiers got cold, he got hot and played spoiler to the home crowd. Down by one, the shifty playmaker put Miller Kopp on skates before initiating contact from Jackson-Davis and laying it in. It was the go-ahead score for the Badgers.
Davis ended the night with 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting and 12 rebounds. He managed to score the Badgers’ final 13 points of the game.
“Trey struggled with Davis. I mean, everybody struggled with Johnny. It wasn’t just Miller. It was everybody that guarded him struggled with him. He had a hell of a game,” said Woodson.
“He kept beating our defense, going the other way, and he’s capable have doing it. He did it tonight. It didn’t matter who we put on him, he just had a good game. I thought Miller played him well early. I thought Parker played him well in stretches. Coming down the stretch couldn’t nobody play him. He had a great game.”
For the second consecutive game, the Hoosiers surrendered many easy points by sending their opponents to the charity stripe. Indiana was called for 25 fouls. This led to 29 free throw attempts for the Badgers. They converted on 75.9 percent of their attempts for 22 free points.
“I thought we played great in stretches, but we just couldn’t sustain it. Too many fouls,” said Woodson.
“I mean, they didn’t get a chance to go through our defense because we put them on the line so much. That’s tough coming down the stretch when they don’t have to execute their offense.”
The Hoosiers tournament hopes are slipping away. They have now dropped four games in a row. This loss is also the fourth loss of the season where the Hoosiers have lost by five or less points.
The road does not get any easier for Indiana. They will face No. 18 Ohio State on the road. They still have to play an emerging Rutgers team and No. 5 Purdue in West Lafayette.
“I got to get them in better position. I can’t shoot it for them, but I got to get them comfortable to the point where they feel good about making shots,” Woodson said.
“I mean, the good teams do it. We’re not that good yet. We’re still a work in this progress trying to figure it out down the stretch. We’ve played some good basketball this season. We just haven’t been consistent in bringing them home. Been in every ball game fighting battling. Can’t take that away from our guys because they do fight. But we got to learn how to win. I got help them in that area.”
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