Defensive woes lead to loss
The Hoosiers (15-12, 5-9), behind solid defense and sound 3-point shooting, led the Badgers (23-5, 10-5) 29-19 at halftime.
IU was moving the ball on offense and forcing Wisconsin into tough shots. The Badgers made only one of their 10 3-point attempts in the first half and went 7-of-27 from the field.
IU limited its turnovers and freshman forward Noah Vonleh hit both of his 3-point attempts. Everything was going well for the Hoosiers.
In the second half, the Hoosiers’ 10-point lead fell apart.
Wisconsin, which shot 25.9 percent in the first half, shot more than 60 percent in the second, on its way to winning 69-58.
It was an all-too-familiar scenario for the Hoosiers. On the road against Nebraska, Minnesota and, now, Wisconsin games, in which IU had double-digit leads at some point in the first half, the Hoosiers saw another second-half lead get squandered.
Against Nebraska, IU’s 13-point halftime lead was overtaken 13 minutes into the second half. Against Minnesota, IU’s six-point halftime lead had withered away nine minutes into the second half.
It took the No. 14 Badgers just five minutes to reclaim the lead.
Sophomore guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell said IU’s defense over-helped in the second half, leading to open Wisconsin shots.
“We just didn’t figure it out and play defense,” Ferrell said. “We over-helped, and they knocked down some crucial threes.”
Ferrell said Wisconsin’s offense didn’t change much after the break, but rather IU’s communication on defense broke down.
“They were running off of the same sets that they were running,” Ferrell said. “We just broke down defensively. (There was a) lack of communication.”
IU was outscored 50-29 in the second half. The Hoosiers allowed Wisconsin to shoot 61.9 percent from the field (13-of-21) and 54.5 percent from beyond the arc
Wisconsin sophomore Sam Dekker led the Badger barrage in the second half, scoring 14 points on 4-of-4 shooting.
Wisconsin spread its scoring among its starting five, as each player scored in double figures.
IU, meanwhile, saw 42 of its 58 points come from Ferrell and Vonleh.
After the game, IU Coach Tom Crean said over-helping was the cause of the Hoosiers’ defensive woes in the second half.
“We didn’t guard the dribble nearly as well as we did in the first half,” he said.
Wisconsin began the second half on a 9-2 run in the first , and continued its offensive prowess throughout the half.
Crean said IU didn’t guard well against the dribble, and it allowed Wisconsin to drive the lane and make outlet passes for open shots.
“They got hot,” Crean said. “The basket started looking pretty big for them. Bottom line is they got some looks and they made them. First half they weren’t getting as many of those looks.”