The poise of Indiana men’s basketball was absolutely dominant to start against No. 22 Wisconsin on Wednesday night at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin. Indiana set the tone early to show why it should belong in the conversation as one of the best teams in the conference.
But Indiana is still having a problem with keeping its foot on its opponents' necks and stopping the teams in close game situations. It happened again Wednesday as Indiana fell to Wisconsin 64-59 in a close game it seemed in control of.
In order to be a dominant team, you have to be able to close out games like these. There should have been no reason for Wisconsin to win the way they did, considering how terrible they shot the basketball down the stretch.
Indiana was by far the best team in this matchup, but it did not prove that Wednesday night.
Since the ball tipped, Indiana played hard-nosed basketball on both ends of the floor, and Wisconsin had no answer. This performance was by far, the best performance Indiana has played this season.
Indiana made the adjustments to play with energy from the start of the game, shooting 71% from the arc in the first half. The main reason for the percentage was senior guard Parker Stewart, who led Indiana 5-for-7 from three-point land.
Stewart was absolutely lights out, shooting 3-for-3 from three and creating a 17-point lead to end the first half. The Hoosiers haven’t won in the Kohl Center since 1998, making it even sweeter to see them demolish the Badgers.
Before the season started, senior guard Xavier Johnson was set to be a major piece for Indiana’s success. It was only a matter of time until he was comfortable enough to begin making his presence known on this Hoosier team.
Johnson’s performance was a one man show, grabbing 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, while being aggressive and getting to the right spots to create open opportunities for his teammates. The impressive start led Indiana into a 19-4 run leading Wisconsin to a hard time getting transitions on offense.
Having a win over a ranked team in Wisconsin under Indiana’s belt would have helped it set a mark into the March Madness conversation. Indiana has to keep proving doubters wrong and continue to build believers by playing dominant basketball all the time.
Indiana can be tough to beat this year, but it has to keep applying pressure to continue being a threat for teams to beat in the Big Ten.