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The Indiana Daily Student

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Indiana men’s basketball looks to overcome Kohl Center nightmares against No. 11 Wisconsin

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It may not be October, but Indiana men’s basketball is on its way to a haunted house. The Hoosiers will face No. 11 Wisconsin on the road at the Kohl Center on Friday night, where Indiana has lost 19 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 25, 1998. 

In fact, the Hoosiers’ win was the second-ever men’s game played in the newly built Kohl Center. Ever since, however, Indiana has failed to win in the arena, no matter the quality of either team. 

Indiana will face a tall task on the trip to Madison to overcome the losing drought. Despite its first Big Ten loss in its most recent game to Penn State, Wisconsin leads the conference with a 5-1 record and wields a 13-4 overall record, including 9-1 at home. 

The Badgers employ a much different style than Indiana’s most recent opponent — Purdue, who dominated the Hoosiers 87-66 on Tuesday — but are potent nonetheless.  

Wisconsin fields a roster with six players who score more than 8 points per game but is without a true star player. Sophomore guard AJ Storr is the head of the snake with 15.3 points per game alongside 7-foot junior forward Steven Crowl, who puts up 12 points per contest. 

Indiana sophomore center Kel’el Ware’s matchup against Crowl should be one to watch. Following a below-average 5-point, six-rebound contest against Purdue’s 7-foot-4 senior center Zach Edey, Ware has yet to display a strong performance against an opposing big man his size, but his battle in the paint Friday night could prove otherwise. 

All eyes will be on the Hoosiers’ backcourt, taking on Wisconsin’s productive guard play, especially given its recent struggles. Sixth-year senior guard Xavier Johnson scored just 4 points compared to nine turnovers in his last three games while senior guard Trey Galloway has displayed the only reliable offensive performances, like a 17-point game in the loss to Purdue. 

Storr and the Badger guards provide a balance of scoring and facilitating and also know how to control the game’s pace. Wisconsin ranks 316th of 362 Division I teams in adjusted tempo with 65.2 possessions per 40 minutes per KenPom — a college basketball analytics site. 

While the Badgers operate at a slow pace, they run their offense efficiently. KenPom ranks Wisconsin sixth in the country in adjusted offense with 120.4 points per 100 possessions. 

The 3-point line may be the game’s biggest factor, and it could depend more on efficiency than volume for the Hoosiers. Wisconsin’s 3-point defense ranks last in the Big Ten in percentage allowed at a 35.2% clip but allows the fourth-fewest attempts in the conference. 

On the flip side, Indiana shoots the least amount of threes in the league by a large margin at 279 compared to the next lowest — Wisconsin with 322. The Hoosiers make 33.7% of their attempts, tied for 10th in the conference. 

Indiana has progressed behind the arc after a slow start to the season. After not making six or more 3-pointers until their ninth game of the season, the Hoosiers have reached that mark in six of their last seven games. 

Forward Mackenzie Mgbako will be another name to monitor. The 5-star freshman is two games removed from a career-high 19 points, now finding his stride after a slow start to his collegiate career. 

RelatedMackenzie Mgbako exhibits growth in Indiana’s men’s basketball’s win over Minnesota Mgbako scored a game and career-high 19 points.

Indiana and Wisconsin are set to tip off at 8:30 p.m. Friday. The game will be televised on FS1. 

Follow reporters Will Foley (@foles24) and Matt Press (@MattPress23) and columnist Daniel Flick (@ByDanielFlick) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season.

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