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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student


Lack of Jeffries too much for Hoosiers to overcome

So this is what life is like without Jared Jeffries. \nIU hobbled through Wednesday night's Big Ten matchup with Wisconsin. \nJeffries, who sprained an ankle in a win against Louisville Saturday and bruised his thigh earlier in the week, hobbled through warm-ups. \nThen, the Big Ten's leading scorer sat and stood during the game before somberly walking off the Assembly Hall floor after the Badgers upset No. 22 IU 64-63. Not once did he remove his red warm-up jacket or his candy-striped pants. \nThe result was a Wisconsin win that ended the Hoosiers 10-game home winning streak, put a dent in their Big Ten title chase and ignited second-guessing on whether Jeffries should have been on the floor. \nFor IU coach Mike Davis, the decision was clear cut.\n"There was no sense to play him," IU coach Mike Davis said. "He's hurt. For him to play against Iowa and Louisville was really big. (Even) If we have J.J., (Wisconsin) probably beat us."\nThe game marked the first time in Jeffries 57-game career he didn't start. IU (16-8, 8-3 Big Ten) has battled through stretches in which Jeffries has been saddled with foul trouble and hung with Louisville during the six-minute span in which Jeffries left Saturday's game. \nDavis hoped his players would gain confidence and a win without Jeffries Wednesday, but that plan didn't develop.\nIU shot better than its season average of 45 percent, finishing at 49 percent, but the Hoosiers' normally productive three-point shooting fizzled; IU finished five of 16 from beyond the arc and this time there was no Jeffries to clean up the misses. \n"In our offense, everything runs through Jared," freshman guard Donald Perry said. "So, it's hard playing without him. Without him, we struggled."\nFour Hoosiers scored in double digits, but a tall Wisconsin (15-11, 8-5) squad stretched IU's defense and exploited the IU interior. The Badgers' Mike Wilkinson scored seven straight points in a second-half spurt that enabled the Badgers to fend off any IU rally. In the first half, forward Charlie Wills hit all five of his field goals, helping the Badgers to a 40-35 edge. Wilkinson, Wills and center Dave Mader scored 34 points on IU's big-man combination of senior Jarrad Odle, junior Jeff Newton and sophomore George Leach, carrying that trio away from the bucket.\nWhen the Badgers did go inside, Newton and Leach combined to block eight shots, but the lack of Jeffries' presence could be felt. \nOdle scored 12 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Newton scored eight and Leach added five, all in the first half. \nOdle was the only Hoosier with more than five rebounds and several second-chance buckets by Wisconsin kept IU from evening the score or pulling ahead.\nEven with the box score void of Jeffries' normal contributions, the Hoosiers were steadfast in their belief that the absence of the Big Ten's leading scorer shouldn't have mattered. \n"I don't think it really was a factor," said senior guard Dane Fife, who scored 11 points. "Sure, we definitely could have used him, but we've got the personnel to beat Wisconsin and most of the teams in this league with or without him."\nWisconsin coach Bo Ryan wasn't so sure. \n"I definitely think Jeffries not being in the game was a factor," Ryan said. "They have a good team, and him not being there affected their chemistry."\nSo with IU in a two-way tie for the Big Ten lead with No. 23 Ohio State and the frantic conference race coming to a finale, will Jeffries play Sunday at Michigan, where IU lost last season despite 30 points from Kirk Haston? \n"I hope so," Davis said. "I'm going to go home tonight and say a long prayer that his ankle will heal quickly"

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