It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Indiana followed one of its best halves in recent memory with one of its worst, and the result in Madison was the same as it has been for the last nearly 24 years — a loss at the Kohl Center.
Let’s take a reluctant look back at the details of what went right and then totally wrong with another edition of The Report Card.
Indiana (7-2, 1-1) will return home to face Merrimack on Sunday at Noon Eastern in Bloomington.
Indiana just imploded in the second half.
The Hoosiers made just 7-of-31 shots including 0-of-5 from long range. They made just 3-of-9 free throws. They had only three assists.
All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis took just four shots in the second half.
“I’ve got to find ways to get Trayce and Race (Thompson) more shots down low,” head coach Mike Woodson said. “He (Jackson-Davis) didn’t get enough shots.”
With Indiana unable to get the ball to its big men and Wisconsin sticking to perimeter shooters Miller Kopp and Parker Stewart, that left Xavier Johnson to try to figure it out.
And he couldn’t.
After a wonderful first half, Johnson made just 1-of-10 shots and 1-of-4 free throws while turning it over twice in the second half. Too often Johnson seemed to force shots at the rim that weren’t good looks.
“He’s got to learn and figure out from watching film when he has it and when he doesn’t have it,” Woodson said. “That’s what good point guards do, and he struggled tonight.”
With Wisconsin not taking the lead until 1:18 left in the game, Indiana likely could have won if it simply made its free throws. Instead the Hoosiers missed six from the stripe in the second half.
“We’ve got to make free throws on the road when they’re tight games,” Woodson said.
Indiana made 54.8 from the field in the first half including 5-of-8 from three. Some of the damage was done in transition, which Wisconsin did a better job of controlling in the second half.
For the game IU had just .931 points per possession, their second worst mark of the season.
Wisconsin played into Indiana’s hands in the first half, trying to attack with downhill drives rather than getting ball reversals and post feeds.
“They load defensively to the ball really well, much like we do, and it’s hard to crack them on the first or second turn,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “We tried to dribble drive them and ended up taking some bad shots, and we didn’t play inside-out like we have.”
After a dismal 31.3 percent shooting effort in the first half, the Badgers were better in the second but still from IU’s standpoint an acceptable 40 percent after halftime and just 35.5 percent for the game. But Indiana only turned Wisconsin over four times the entire game, and after enough opportunities, they found a hole in the Indiana defense.
While Jackson-Davis has been a major force early in the season as a shot blocker, Wisconsin used that against him at times.
“They got little drop-off passes where they made buckets around and inside the paint,” Woodson said. “Those were huge buckets because I thought Race had his guy under control and he (Jackson-Davis) came over to try to block the shot.”
Indiana largely kept everyone in check, but coming into the game it was hard to see a good matchup against Johnny Davis. Early the Hoosiers switched all of Wisconsin’s screens and were able to force Davis into tough shots. But as they moved the ball better in the second half, things opened up. And it didn’t really matter who was trying to cover Davis. He was too quick.
The Hoosiers gave up 11 offensive rebounds and 11 points off those second chance opportunities. Some of those rebounds once again came when Jackson-Davis left his man.
Indiana gave up 1.01 points per possession, their fourth most in a game this year.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score, keys to the game and specialty stats
- Woodson and Xavier Johnson post-game
- Kohl Center misery continues
Trayce Jackson-Davis (D) It was concerning both on an individual and team level to see a game where Jackson-Davis had so little impact. Missed shots are one thing, but only six rebounds and one block are more concerning. He seemed a step slower than normal defensively on the help side all night.
Race Thompson (C+) It was another workmanlike night for Thompson, who was IU’s leading scorer and rebounder and had no turnovers. But Thompson was just 2-of-6 from the field in the second half.
Miller Kopp (D) After contributing seven points to the first half onslaught, Kopp was shut out after the break. Wisconsin forced him to put it on the floor, and he struggled. Kopp drew the Davis assignment much of the night, and he was no match.
Parker Stewart (C) It was much the same story as Kopp. Wisconsin figured out that they had to stick to him and run him off the 3-point line — and when they did, Stewart was ineffective. He too was shut out in the second half.
Xavier Johnson (D) You can’t totally ignore what was a very good first half from Johnson. But too often he has a singular mind to get a shot up off his dribble drives rather than looking to facilitate.
Tamar Bates (C) He seemed like the natural defensive matchup for Davis, but the staff is clearly not comfortable with him on that end. Forced some unnecessary post-entry passes that resulted in turnovers.
Jordan Geronimo (B) Five rebounds and two blocks in ten minutes was a solid bench contribution from Geronimo. He needed to take two points rather than go for the highlight reel dunk, which cost the team a bucket and nearly got him hurt.
Michael Durr (B) For a few minutes Durr seemed like the only offense IU had. He had a third basket that was taken away by what appeared to be a phantom travel call.
Rob Phinisee (D) He is still clearly not 100 percent which is hampering him defensively, and Phinisee continues to be highly inefficient on the offensive end.
Anthony Leal (C) Leal had some good early defensive stops and saw some key minutes late, but he ultimately struggled against Davis like everyone else and was unable to get room for shots offensively.
Trey Galloway was out with a wrist injury.
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