Wisconsin sophomore guard Johnny Davis left the door open for Indiana men’s basketball.
Davis pulled down a rebound with 22 seconds remaining off a 3-point miss by senior guard Xavier Johnson, and senior forward Miller Kopp fouled him almost instantly. No. 15 Wisconsin led by 2 points, and Davis could’ve put Indiana away at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall with two makes at the free-throw line.
He missed the first, hitting the front of the rim and keeping hope alive for the Hoosiers. Even after he made the second free throw, the Hoosiers trailed by just 3 points and had 19 seconds to work with. However, after a timeout from head coach Mike Woodson their offense went stagnant, and a contested 3-pointer from senior guard Parker Stewart missed badly.
With six seconds to go, the door Davis left open slammed shut. Senior forward Miller Kopp sent Davis to the free-throw line again and he made both shots that time, putting the stamp on his 30-point performance and sealing the deal on a 74-69 Badger win.
The Hoosiers led for nearly 30 minutes Tuesday night and held a 69-66 lead with 1:50 left to play, but they allowed Davis to score the final 8 points of the game. Davis scored 6 of those points off free throws, and the Hoosiers’ inability to keep up with him extended their losing streak to four games.
“I thought we played great in stretches, but we just couldn't sustain it,” Woodson said at the postgame press conference. “Too many fouls.”
Woodson said he didn’t think Indiana played through junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who scored 30 points Tuesday, enough down the stretch. Johnson’s miss with 22 seconds left came off a pass from Jackson-Davis who had backed down his defender deep into the post before kicking the ball out.
Jackson-Davis served as the Hoosiers’ best facilitator Tuesday night, finishing with six of the team’s 14 assists. He said after the game he saw Wisconsin senior guard Brad Davison dig on the play, which left Johnson open at the 3-point line. Even though Johnson missed, Jackson-Davis said he'd have him take the shot 10 out of 10 times.
“It was a great look by him,” Jackson-Davis said. “I know he wished he could get it back, and I know he will in the next game.”
However, Woodson thought Jackson-Davis had a good position in the post and should have forced the officials to make a foul call. Johnson had a good look, but the guard struggled all night and finished with 7 points on 3-16 shooting from the field, and went 1-6 from 3-point range.
“I kept trying to go to (Jackson-Davis) because they couldn't stop him,” Woodson said. “Him being so unselfish, he kept letting the ball come out and we just couldn't make shots.”
Still, Woodson put the blame on himself after the game, saying his final play call, which led to Stewart’s contested look, was awful. Woodson said he couldn’t shoot the shots for his team, but he needs to help put them in a better position to hit shots both on the court and in their heads.
Jackson-Davis echoed the same sentiment, saying the Hoosiers need to work on their confidence to work their way out of their slumps. They finished 5-18 from 3-point range and Stewart was their only player to hit more than one at 2-4 for the game.
“They're going to keep doing their thing, keep getting up shots in extra time, and they're going to start falling,” Jackson-Davis said. “You just gotta have faith in your teammates, and I know they'll get out of these slumps.”
In addition to his offensive production, Jackson-Davis led Indiana with eight rebounds, three blocks and a steal. Senior forward Race Thompson was the only other Hoosier to score in double figures, finishing with 13 points and eights rebounds.
Indiana outscored Wisconsin by 5 points when Thompson was on the court, making him the team’s only player with a positive plus/minus score. Outside of Jackson-Davis and Thompson, who combined for 15-for-21 shooting, Indiana shot 10-for-40 Tuesday.
The Hoosiers fell to 16-9 this season and 7-8 in Big Ten play with the loss. They will play two more ranked teams in their final five games, and as their losing streak grows each game becomes more important to their NCAA Tournament hopes.
Indiana will have nearly a week off before it plays its next game against No. 18 Ohio State at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 in Columbus, Ohio. Indiana beat Ohio State at 67-51 at Assembly Hall on Jan. 6.