Five takeaways from Indiana’s win against Wisconsin

  • 02/28/2024 8:38 am in

Indiana snapped a four-game losing streak with a 74-70 win against Wisconsin on Tuesday night at Assembly Hall. The victory improved the Hoosiers to 15-13 overall and 7-10 in Big Ten play with three regular season games remaining.

Here are five takeaways from the win against the Badgers:

Kel’el Ware was dominant

Kel’el Ware missed Indiana’s first matchup against Wisconsin, a 91-79 loss on Jan. 19 at the Kohl Center.

Ware made his presence felt in the rematch with the Badgers in Assembly Hall.

The 7-footer made his first eight shots, finished 11-for-12 from the field and scored a game-high 27 points in 38 minutes. Ware scored 20 of his 27 points in the first half.

The offensive arsenal Ware displayed showed why he’s likely to be a first-round NBA draft pick in June. Ware scored off the dribble going to the rim, he scored off of lobs and he stepped out and hit a 3-pointer.

But it wasn’t just the scoring that made Ware’s performance special. He also grabbed 11 rebounds – all on the defensive end – and blocked five shots. And he altered plenty of looks at the rim, too.

Ware has had plenty of standout performances this season, but Tuesday’s was among his best.

“He was fantastic tonight,” Mike Woodson said. “We needed every bit of it in order to win this game.”

Hoosiers dig down late for defensive stops

There’s no disputing Indiana’s defense has taken a step back this season.

The Hoosiers, however, were able to get stops when it mattered most against Wisconsin. The Badgers missed their last six shots and went scoreless in the final 2:06.

It was a whole team effort in that stretch, as Indiana avoided any breakdowns and made things challenging for Wisconsin on every possession.

While the overall defensive effort wasn’t up to the standard Indiana set the previous two seasons, it improved significantly from the first meeting between the two teams at the Kohl Center. Wisconsin finished with 1.115 points per possession on Tuesday compared to the 1.403 points per possession it put up in Madison against Indiana.

Indiana held Wisconsin to just 43.5 percent shooting in Tuesday’s win and allowed the Badgers to get to the free throw line just three times.

This was one of IU’s best shooting performances of the season

Woodson has been steadfast in his comments that his team is getting good looks but isn’t knocking them down.

On Tuesday, the Hoosiers made shots.

Indiana finished 29-for-47 (61.7 percent) from the field and 6-for-14 (42.9 percent). Five different Hoosiers made a 3-pointer in the win.

One primary key was how well the Hoosiers shared the ball.

Indiana finished with 17 assists on 29 made baskets. While there was some sloppiness with the ball at times – the Hoosiers committed 12 turnovers – the ball movement was solid overall and many of the shots were in rhythm.

Playing out of position, Trey Galloway dishes out 12 assists

Xavier Johnson’s injury, coupled with the freshman struggles of Gabe Cupps, have forced Trey Galloway into becoming Indiana’s primary distributor for much of the season.

Galloway matched his career-high with 12 assists on Tuesday while only committing two turnovers.

In Big Ten games, Galloway now ranks sixth in the league in assist rate at 28.4 percent.

“We got a lot of trust in Galloway. No doubt about that,” Woodson said. “He’s played probably some of the most minutes of anybody on our team this year.

“So we trust when the ball is in his hands he can make basketball plays. I thought tonight he delivered for us; made a lot of great plays.”

Galloway continues to struggle from the perimeter – he was 0-for-4 on 3s and just 3-for-10 from the field – but his playmaking and stellar defense made him one of the MVPs in Tuesday’s win.

The four-game losing streak is over

While one win doesn’t take away the overall disappointment of how Indiana’s season has transpired through 28 games, the Hoosiers haven’t stopped competing.

After blowing a 15-point first half lead, Indiana stayed on its feet even when the Badgers took the lead multiple times in the second half.

Whether the Hoosiers can parlay this win into more in the coming weeks remains to be seen. But for Woodson, it was nice to see his team get some validation for its solid performance after losing four straight and eight of its last 10.

“That locker room is very happy right now. When you go through a stretch like that, I don’t wish that on anyone,” Woodson said. “Nobody likes to lose. Me being who I am, I hate losing.

“But there is a lot that comes with that, man. You got to stay patient. You can’t just bury the guys. You can’t do that. You got to pat them. We all forget these are 18- and 19-year-old young men, man. Sometimes their feelings are crushed too. But that locker room is happy. It’s like we got that monkey off our back, so I’m happy for them.”

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