After losing its previous 12 games against Wisconsin, IU (12-5, 2-2) overcame a 10-point second-half deficit to defeat the No. 3 Badgers (16-1, 3-1) 75-72 at Assembly Hall.
Sophomore guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell accounted for 19 of IU’s 41 points in the second half, and he was the Hoosiers’ main scoring option in the final minutes of the game.
Despite missing his first seven three-point attempts of the game, Ferrell knocked down a jumper from behind the arc with two minutes and 53 seconds remaining to give IU a 68-65 advantage.
“I felt like most of my threes kind of felt good, just weren’t going in,” Ferrell said. “If I had to make one three, I was glad it was that last one.”
While Wisconsin twice cut IU’s lead to one point in the waning minutes, the Hoosiers never surrendered the lead.
With IU leading 73-72 and roughly 20 seconds left in the game, Ferrell had an open look at a layup, but he elected to continue dribbling to take more time off the clock. He was fouled and made a pair of free throws to extend the Hoosiers’ lead to three points.
Wisconsin had two game-tying three-point attempts, but the Badgers missed them both, provoking IU fans to storm the court in celebration.
IU Coach Tom Crean described Ferrell as a “big-game player.”
“When he’s attacking and there is no predetermination, when he’s not settling, he’s fantastic,” Crean said. “And he made a big, big difference for us tonight.”
While Ferrell’s late three-pointer was the turning point for the Hoosiers, IU’s calling card was penetrating Wisconsin’s defense and getting to the rim.
The Hoosiers outscored Wisconsin 52-44 in the paint and Badger Coach Bo Ryan said IU’s ability to drive into the lane was what really hurt his team.
Senior forward Will Sheehey, who had 13 points and six rebounds, said IU played games against tough opponents this season but the Hoosiers “haven’t gotten it done.”
He credited Ferrell and freshman guard Stanford Robinson for making big plays throughout the game.
“If we have guys that are committed to doing what we’ve been doing, committed to the game plan, playing hard, playing smart, we’re going to win games,” Sheehey said.
For the second consecutive game, IU overcame a double-digit lead en route to a conference win.
Crean said the Hoosiers needed a victory against Wisconsin just like they did against Penn State on Saturday. He said his team looked very locked in despite its quick turnaround from State College, Pa., last weekend.
“You’d like to have more time for Wisconsin, but we didn’t, and it doesn’t matter,” he said. “You have to come out, and you have to execute. Sometimes you have to make some changes on the fly, and our team is really growing and doing that.”
Follow reporter Andy Wittry on Twitter @AndyWittry
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