Frank Kaminsky scores 23 points to lead No. 5 Wisconsin over Indiana
Trying to stop Frank Kaminsky would be a tough enough task alone for most teams.
The unique predicament posed by No. 5 Wisconsin is that the 7-footer has two frontcourt running mates who can make life in the paint just as miserable for opponents.
Kaminsky scored 23 points and shot 9 of 12 from the field, Nigel Hayes added 16 points on 5-of-5 shooting and the big men led the Badgers to a 92-78 win on Tuesday night over undersized Indiana.
Guard Bronson Koenig provided balance from the outside with 15 points, going 3 of 4 from 3-point range as Wisconsin (20-2, 8-1 Big Ten) won its fifth straight.
"I think our guys made some tough shots inside," coach Bo Ryan said. "We had to have that because we knew they were going to hit some 3s."
Sam Dekker, the third member of the athletic starting frontcourt, added 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Reserve guard Zak Showalter added a season-high nine points, entertaining a crowd that braved a snowstorm with 3-point plays on tough transition layups during back-to-back possessions in the second half.
Wisconsin quickly turned an eight-point halftime lead into a 30-point rout with 10 minutes left. Indiana (16-7, 6-4) shot 2 of 11 during that stretch.
The Hoosiers hit 5 of 6 on late 3-pointers to make the score more respectable.
They just didn't have an answer for Wisconsin's big men all night long.
"Frank and Nigel seemed to be open every time they touched the ball," Showalter said.
It's not the way that Indiana coach Tom Crean had envisioned his team would respond after getting to within 44-36 at the half despite being without leading scorer James Blackmon, Jr., who had an ankle injury. The Hoosiers had answered Wisconsin's 9-0 run to start the game by hitting 8 of 11 from 3-point range in the first half.
"It really comes down to defensive activity," Crean said. "You've got to account for everybody ... They're constantly keeping you in movement. You've got to make every catch harder."
Nick Zeisloft had 17 to lead Indiana, which had to go with a three-guard starting lineup supplemented by two 6-foot-7 sophomores in the frontcourt.
They were overmatched. The Badgers continually took advantage of Indiana defenders overplaying entry passes, allowing clear paths to the bucket.
"What we wanted to do we really didn't do so well," Crean said. "We'll see if we get a chance to play them again."
Robert Johnson had 16 points for the Hoosiers, while Troy Williams added 14 points and seven rebounds.
Crean said Blackmon didn't practice the last couple days after hurting his ankle during a 72-64 win over Rutgers on Saturday. Blackmon wasn't able to go after testing out the ankle before Tuesday's game.
Kaminsky said he thought his team might have let up the intensity for a bit in the second half after leading by as much as 32. Indiana benefited by getting on another hot stretch from 3-point range. The Hoosiers finished 13 of 24 on the night from beyond the arc.
"We were able to give ourselves a huge cushion that whatever they did would have been hard to come back from," Kaminsky said.
Indiana: The Hoosiers lost their third straight conference road game. ... Indiana had at least three drives to the bucket wasted by mishandled dribbles, leading to turnovers against a Wisconsin team that can be especially difficult in the paint defensively with 7-footer Kaminsky.
Wisconsin: Guard Josh Gasser started his 126th game, tying Alando Tucker for most in school history. Gasser finished with 11 points to put all five starters in double figures. ... Wisconsin won its 13th straight in the series at home, where the Badgers haven't lost to the Hoosiers since 1998. ... Dekker showed off his athleticism just before the halftime buzzer by tapping in a missed shot with his left hand while falling backward for the eight-point lead.