MADISON, Wisconsin — As IU men’s basketball trailed with 15:12 remaining in the game, junior guard Al Durham drove inside for a floater.
When he made his way past the free throw line, he lifted his knee and made contact with Wisconsin junior forward Nate Reuvers. He was called for the blocking foul, and Durham headed to the free throw line for two shots.
While Durham walked to the free throw line, the Wisconsin Jumbotron showed a replay of the foul. The Wisconsin fans yelled in disagreement with the call, and one IU fan responded.
“We are down by 24 points guys,” the man said. “Cut us a break.”
At that point, IU trailed 51-27 as the game was all but over. From the very beginning, IU couldn’t match the intensity Wisconsin brought to the floor. It continued through the second half as the Hoosiers fell 84-64 in the Big Ten opener.
The last time IU defeated Wisconsin within the confines of the Kohl Center was Jan. 25, 1998, and that losing streak will live on for another year.
“Your first road game is what it is,” IU head coach Archie Miller said. “You could’ve played really hard today and could’ve had a dog fight of a game and you still come out short in the win column. We weren’t ready to play as hard as we needed to against Wisconsin, and we didn’t play tough enough.”
The only lead IU had of the day was 2-0 after Durham made a pair of free throws less than a minute into a game.
From that point, Wisconsin took over and never looked back. The Badgers went on a 20-4 run with only two points coming from the post. Wisconsin was hitting perimeter shot after perimeter shot. There wasn’t anything IU could do to limit the onslaught that was occurring.
At halftime, Reuvers and sophomore guard Kobe King combined for 28 points, enough to outscore IU entirely as a team by one point.
King came into the game averaging 10.4 points but had 17 through the first 20 minutes. No matter who was out on the perimeter guarding him, he continued to make IU pay for each opportunity he was given.
“It’s definitely hard on the road especially when they come out hot the way they did,” senior guard Devonte Green said.
Over Wisconsin’s prior three games, the Badgers failed to score more than 54 points and lost each one of them. Early in the season, Miller talked about how his team would need to get punched in the mouth in order for the defense to grow.
Against No. 17 Florida State University, the Seminoles went out to an 11-4 lead, but IU responded and fought back due to defense and a career performance from Green.
This time around, it was the opposite. The Hoosiers were outplayed in every facet of the game and couldn’t find their footing. Each time IU would seem to find some sort of offensive groove, Wisconsin would respond with another made shot.
There was a lot of hype around the men’s basketball program after the FSU win. Wisconsin shut down those talks from the start and made IU look like the unranked team it will likely still be come Monday.
IU played with inconsistency throughout the eight nonconference games to start the season. At its best, it cruised past then-No.17 Florida State, and at its worst it looked like it did Saturday in Madison.
How IU responds come Tuesday against the University of Connecticut in New York, showing whether the blowout win over Florida State or blowout loss to Wisconsin was more realistic, will be a clear indication of what type of season this could turn out to be.
“This team has shown the ability over the early part of the year to be coachable and team-oriented,” Miller said. “I don’t think that’s going to change. We got another one on Tuesday.”
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