Indiana Basketball: the Hoosiers come up empty late in loss to No. 10 Wisconsin

Indiana basketball took on No. 10 Wisconsin in college basketball’s Sunday matinee. The Hoosiers came up short after a second half push, falling to the Badgers 65-60.

Madison, Wisconsin has not been kind to the Indiana Hoosiers Men’s Basketball team. On Sunday, the Hoosiers were looking for their first win at the Kohl Center since 1998. No. 10 Wisconsin, one of the best teams in the country, continued their winning streak against Indiana at home.

Indiana was looking for their second straight win after defeating Penn State in triple overtime earlier in the week. The Hoosiers played their third straight game without junior guard James Blackmon Jr., who suffered a leg injury on January 26th against Michigan.

The Hoosiers fell to a 12-point deficit with just over eight minutes left in the first half. Coming out of the timeout, Indiana followed with a 14-to-5 run to end the first half. A key three-point shot from Thomas Bryant before the timeout sparked the run for the Hoosiers. No. 10 Wisconsin was having another lackluster shooting performance. The Badgers managed to shoot under 40-percent from the field for a third straight game.

Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ had 20 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks – enough to push past Indiana. Happ provided a key block in the last three minutes of the game, following a timeout call to save the Badgers possession. Nigel Hayes had 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 7-for-8 from the free throw line. 65 points were enough to avoid a potential upset at home.

Indiana did just about everything you could ask an injury depleted team. The Hoosiers did just about everything but outscore the Badgers. Indiana shot 42.9-percent from the field – compared to Wisconsin’s 39.6-percent.  Josh Newkirk had another impressive offensive game scoring 22 points. A costly turnover by Newkirk to the Badgers late in the second half potentially provided a turning point in the game.

One of the highlights for Indiana included this monstrous throwdown by Thomas Bryant.

The Hoosiers were outrebounded 33-to-29 and turned the ball over 15 times. Wisconsin was able to capitalize on some of the Hoosiers miscues. Even though the Hoosiers suffered their ninth loss of the season and fell under .500 in the Big Ten, there might be a sign of life in this team.

For the first time since November, the Hoosiers were active on defense. They forced the No. 10 team in the country to 13 turnovers and less than 40-percent shooting. Wisconsin may have escaped with the win, but Indiana shouldn’t hang their heads. A game in which they can build on heading home to face No. 23 Purdue on Thursday.

If the NCAA Tournament started today, Indiana would probably be one of the first eight teams on the outside looking in. A resume dressed in nine losses includes some ugly losses. Indiana’s current RPI score is 73 with a strength-of-schedule ranking outside the top-50 according to CBS Sports. Indiana still has time to make a case for a tournament bid.

Indiana has two games remaining against No. 23 Purdue, a possible split could put the Hoosiers back in the conversation. They have a rematch against No. 25 Northwestern at the end of the month. This all contingent on the Hoosiers going 3-0 against Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa. Indiana will play four of their final five games on the road.

It’s a tall task for a young Indiana team. If James Blackmon Jr. comes back and remains healthy, the idea of a winning streak is not out of the question. The Hoosiers take on No. 23 Purdue at home on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.

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