Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss at Wisconsin

  • 02/26/2014 11:28 am in

Indiana dropped its sixth conference road game on Tuesday night, falling to No. 14 Wisconsin 69-58 at the Kohl Center in Madison.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the loss to the Badgers:

· Indiana played well in the first half, but there’s a caveat: Yes, the Hoosiers had a comfortable 29-19 halftime cushion against a top 15 team on the road. This was Indiana’s seventh second half lead in a Big Ten road game. But this one felt a little different because of how inept Wisconsin was offensively through the game’s first 20 minutes.

The Badgers entered the game with the Big Ten’s third best offense at 1.13 points per possession. After a 7-of-27 first half performance, Wisconsin limped to the locker room with just .70 points per possession. Not to take anything away from Indiana’s defense, but Wisconsin was simply missing shots in the first half and Tom Crean even noted that during his brief halftime interview with ESPN’s Allison Williams.

So as the second half began, it wasn’t a matter of whether Wisconsin would make a run, but more of how Indiana would respond. Once the Badgers started hitting their shots early in the second half, the same ones that clanked off the rim in the first 20 minutes, the game totally changed and did so quickly.

· Indiana’s lack of offensive options made the Hoosiers easy to guard: IU’s output offensively wasn’t really that much different between the two halves. IU scored 29 in the first half on 12-of-29 shooting (1.07 points per possession) and 29 in the second half on 12-of-28 shooting (.99 points per possession). The real difference was a couple of more turnovers in the second half.

What also didn’t change much between the two halves was IU’s lack of offensive options beyond Noah Vonleh and Yogi Ferrell. The duo combined for 42 of IU’s 58 points. Will Sheehey had IU’s first seven points and didn’t score after that. Troy Williams didn’t score in 22 minutes. Austin Etherington didn’t score in 15 minutes. Evan Gordon didn’t score in 24 minutes.

With just two players who could score with any consistency on the floor, Indiana became very easy to guard. All in all, with the scoring being that imbalanced, the offensive performance was solid and the Hoosiers finished over their Big Ten average in points per possession.

· Some of the defensive breakdowns were tough to watch: There’s no sugarcoating this: Indiana had too many defensive breakdowns that could have been avoided. 3-pointers went unchallenged after shoddy defense on ball screens and the Hoosiers allowed the Badgers to get to the basket unchecked too often.

Part of it stemmed from Wisconsin’s surgeon-like penchant for working around the ball and finding openings, but plays like the one where Williams let Bronson Koenig blow past him on the baseline can’t happen.

· A little more on Vonleh’s night: This was one of the better offensive displays from Vonleh this season, but it’s hard to call it the best as he didn’t take a single free throw, which is a huge staple of what makes him effective. However, the versatility he displayed was a joy to watch.

As much as some like to argue that Vonleh needs to be fed in the post with his back to the basket, he’s actually far more effective overall when he catches and faces up. His perimeter stroke was once again on display in Madison, as he connected on two of his three attempts from distance. Vonleh did find some success in the post against Frank Kaminsky, who simply couldn’t match his strength, but he also had a few of those moments where he bulled his way in without a plan on how to finish. While there’s no doubt that his offensive game is still a work in progress, his continued improvement is a bright spot this season.

· Wisconsin ability to take care of the ball is a thing of beauty: Whatever your opinion is of the system Bo Ryan runs in Madison, there’s no disputing that his teams take care of the ball better than anyone. For the season, Wisconsin is turning it over on just 12.7 percent of its possessions (second nationally) and that number is actually slightly better in conference play (12.2 percent).

The Badgers have now won six straight and it’s no coincidence that taking care of the ball is a big part of it. ESPN’s John Gasaway tweeted earlier this morning that Wisconsin’s turnover percentage over its last four contests is 8.5 percent. Ryan’s team still has its share of vulnerabilities, but the team that knocks them out in March will have to beat them because Wisconsin is unlikely to beat itself.

(Photo credit: David Stluka,

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  • HoosierFan76

    Some might say that the low number of FTs shot in the IU/UW matchup in Bloomington speaks more to the refs swallowing their whistles and not calling fouls – against either team. In fact, I would say that. Big Ten officiating is one of the reasons why no Big Ten team has won an NCAA title since 2000. When teams (say, Wisconsin, for instance) get used to getting away with a certain amount of contact without getting whistled for fouls in Big Ten play, it’s hard for them to adjust to the quicker whistles in the NCAA tournament. This results in foul trouble, which makes it harder to win.

  • MillaRed


  • sadashell

    You might have a good point there Hoosier Fan. But it goes against what was laid down about tighter calls this year (though as you say the refs might have backed off).
    That said, WI has long played D with their feet and hands in the air despite the mugging claims for the most part.
    That actually made it easier for WI this year compared to other teams since they never were a hand checking team. Look at the tape from any game, it’s true. They use their feet and occupy a space with their torso, they very rarely swipe for steals outside of loose ball situations or when they are losing at the end.

    Dakich, though he’s a PITA for the most part, made an interesting point a few games ago. He showed film of the Geargetown teams of the 80s, which were considered very physical, and there was no hand checking or steeping into space where the offensive player already was.

    Good luck to your team tonight.

  • hoosier1158

    Do you know what has been discussed between the coach and player? CTC said HMP has been doing what is required to return from suspension. Everyone makes mistakes and should get a chance to redeem themselves.

  • hoosier1158

    Just because you demand the ball doesn’t mean you will get the ball. I know if i was playing, NV wouldn’t have to ask me twice for the ball. : )

  • HoosierFan76

    There is not enough money in this whole wide world to make me watch tape of Wisconsin in years past. Sorry.

    I honestly do agree that Wisconsin is a pretty good defensive team this season in that they don’t clutch and grab very much (although they do foul more than what was called in the IU/UW game in Madison), but I disagree that they weren’t about clutching and grabbing in the past. Clutching and grabbing was the bread and butter of guys like “Sideshow Bob” Bruesewitz and his ilk. I highly doubt I’ll change your mind with this, though, just as you’re not going to change mine.

    My main point with my posts was that the officials aren’t calling enough contact fouls in conference play right now, and that it will most likely be a big problem for all B1G teams that play in postseason tournaments where the rules emphasis is once again enforced.

  • sadashell

    Okay then, don’t blame you. Our defense is admittedly off this year. I have high regard for Hoosiers though we’ve owned you the last 6 years (also the first time) because I know history. I wore George McGinnis jumpers playing ball in high school. Good luck!

  • hoosier1158

    How many more games? I think CTC will make the right decision regarding player punishment. Devin has been playing more minutes over HMP. Two games may not seem like enough punishment, but HMP might be on some double top secret probation for awhile.

  • deebo

    Called sarcasm

  • JetpackJunky

    Called joking?