Wisconsin beats Indiana 79-71 in Big Ten tourney
Hours after the Indiana Hoosiers learned they had lost point guard Verdell Jones for the season, they played as though they were deflated.
Jones is out with a torn ACL in his right knee. If healthy, he might have been able to help against Wilson. Instead, the Hoosiers are adjusting to playing without their senior leader.
''It's just another step in life,'' Indiana guard Matt Roth said. ''For him and for us, it's just more adversity. We know how to handle that stuff. We do it together. We just keep praying for him and hoping for the best each day.''
Indiana guard Victor Oladipo said Indiana's defense was only part of the reason Wilson was so effective.
''Bad rotations,'' he said. ''He was feeling it, so even if we were there, he was going to make them anyway. He was feeling it all night long, and he made big shots for them.''
The Hoosiers will have a chance to fix their defensive leaks during the NCAA tournament.
''It's not over with,'' Oladipo said. ''We've got something to look forward to now. It's something we haven't had in the past. At the same time, we've got to learn from this loss and bounce back from it.''
Three Indiana players - Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls and Cody Zeller - each scored 17 points. The loss ended the Hoosiers' five-game winning streak, hours after the school announced the severity of Jones' injury.
Wilson, a senior guard who averaged only 3.1 points and 10.7 minutes - and never put up more than 13 points in a college game - did it all with an uncanny shooting touch. He went 7 of 10 from 3-point range despite coming in with a career percentage of 27.8 from beyond the arc. He was 11 of 16 overall.
Wisconsin (24-8) advanced to play No. 8 Michigan State in Saturday's semifinals. The Spartans, one of three teams to share the regular-season league crown, defeated Iowa 92-75 in Friday's first game.
Indiana (25-8) had no answers for Wilson or the rest of Wisconsin's 3-point shooters. The Badgers tied the Big Ten tournament record by making 13 of 26 from long range. Purdue was the most recent of the four teams to achieve the feat. The Boilermakers made 13 in Thursday night's first-round game against Nebraska.
And it didn't take long to see how the game would develop.
Wisconsin jumped out quickly, making seven 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes with most coming on wide-open looks. It allowed the Badgers to take a 28-18 lead, and forced the Hoosiers to play catch-up all day.
Indiana closed to 36-31 at the break, but every time it got close in the second half, Wilson or another Wisconsin shooter had an answer.
After Jordan Taylor was called for a flagrant foul - of the old intentional variety - on what would have been a breakaway layup, Victor Oladipo made 1 of 2 free throws, and Indiana then turned the ball over.
Wilson responded with back-to-back 3s to make it 48-41.
When Indiana closed to 48-47, Wilson hit another 3 to give the Badgers a 51-47 lead.
And when the Badgers needed to close it out, they went right back to Wilson, who knocked down yet another 3 with 35.4 seconds left to make it 72-65.
Indiana has now lost 10 straight to the Badgers.
''It's disappointing,'' Jones said. ''We can't do nothing about it, we've got to look forward to next week and play at a high level because if we don't, it's going to be a quick week for us.''