The Minute After: Wisconsin

  • 01/19/2024 11:47 pm in

Thoughts on a 91-79 loss to the Badgers:

Twenty straight losses at the Kohl Center.

Tonight’s version featured an Indiana team that looked out of sorts midway through the second half. So out of sorts that long-time play-by-play announcer for the Hoosiers, Don Fischer, offered this on the radio broadcast: “I have never said this before in my 51 years behind the microphone at Indiana University, but I am embarrassed for this ball club. Not because of the score.”

The score around that time was Wisconsin by 23 points with 12:07 to go in the game. Just before the Badgers punched out to that lead — their largest of the game —  Max Klesmit nuzzled his head into CJ Gunn’s shoulder. Gunn offered an elbow back to Klesmit’s head and Wisconsin’s bench erupted, pointing it out to the refs. After a monitor review from the officials, Gunn was assessed a flagrant 2 and ejected from the contest. Following Xavier Johnson’s low blow that got him a flagrant 2 against Rutgers on Jan. 8, that’s now two consecutive road games an IU player has been ejected from the game.

Not ideal.

Indiana’s first-half offense was rough. The Hoosiers made one 3-pointer, dished out one assist, took six long 2s (made one), turned it over on 20 percent of their possessions and scored .87 points per possession. As the deficit ballooned out to that aforementioned 23-point mark, Indiana looked to be dead in the water. And yet, while it might not have felt like it, the Hoosiers actually had a fantastic offensive second half. The live stats box score had the Hoosiers at an insane 1.6 points per possession. Malik Reneau got into can’t-stop-me mode and went 8-of-12 from the field. Mackenzie Mgbako made 4-of-8. Trey Galloway hit 3-of-4. Johnson found himself once again, hitting two buckets in the paint. Payton Sparks went 1-of-1. The Hoosiers shot 66.7 percent from the floor. Indiana hit 5-of-9 from deep (55.6 percent) and made 12-of-15 from the line (80 percent).

That second half aided the Hoosiers along to 1.22 points per possession for the game, their most efficient offensive performance in Big Ten play.

And yet … the Hoosiers never got within single digits after going down 23 because their defense was a huge problem. The Badgers posted 1.4 points per possession tonight themselves, which is the most Indiana has surrendered all season, just eclipsing the 1.39 points per possession Auburn posted on Dec. 9. Indiana got burned on post doubles a number of times in the game, as Wisconsin’s bigs simply sprayed it out to shooters or cutters and the shots just kept dropping. The Badgers made 10-of-21 (47.6 percent) from deep and were great at the line as well (25-of-29, 86.2 percent). Klesmit also went on another heater this evening to round out Wisconsin’s strong offensive night. The junior hit 5-of-7 from 3-point range and 8-of-11 overall on his way to a team-high 26 points.

Despite Indiana showing a bit of life in the second half and posting its best offensive game of Big Ten play, this was still a game the Hoosiers trailed by as much as 14 in the first half and 23 in the second. And it’s still a double-digit loss.

“We got a long way to go man, we really do as a ball club,” Mike Woodson said after the game. “I gotta go back and get this fixed because we’re not playing well on the road.”

Can it be fixed, though? That’s the lingering question for this team as the losses are starting to pile up and any post-season hopes are just about out the window.

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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