Indiana Basketball: No. 11 Wisconsin beats Hoosiers for 20th straight time in Madison

The Indiana Hoosiers were defeated by the #11 Wisconsin Badgers on Friday night, 91-79.
Wisconsin Badgers forward Tyler Wahl (5) attempts to block Indiana Hoosiers forward Malik Reneau (5)
Wisconsin Badgers forward Tyler Wahl (5) attempts to block Indiana Hoosiers forward Malik Reneau (5) / Jovanny Hernandez / Milwaukee Journal

“In my 51 years behind this microphone, I will say something that I've never said before: I'm embarrassed for this team, and it has nothing to do with the score.”

This is what legendary Indiana broadcaster Don Fischer had to say after CJ Gunn hit Wisconsin guard Max Klesmit in the face with his right elbow. Gunn was assessed a flagrant two foul and was ejected from the ballgame. This type of undisciplined basketball was a major theme in the Hoosiers' loss on Friday night, disappointing Fischer and Indiana fans everywhere. 

Indiana suffered defeat in Madison for the 20th straight time. The Hoosiers went into this matchup knowing it would be extremely difficult to take down the No.11 Badgers on the road. Not having 7-footer Kel’el Ware made it even harder. Wisconsin led most of the way en route to a win that kept them atop the Big Ten standings. 

It was a solid first five minutes for the Hoosiers, jumping out to an early 10-5 lead. However, Wisconsin turned it up a notch offensively and went into the locker room with a 39-26 advantage. Both shot selection and shot making was a struggle for the Hoosiers in the first half. They shot 40% from the field and 20% from three, many of these misses being long 2-pointers. At the half, Xavier Johnson and Trey Galloway had a combined two points on 1-6 shooting and five fouls. 

Just three minutes into the second half, Woodson was forced to call a timeout after back-to-back Max Klesmit three’s brought the Wisconsin lead to 16. Not even two minutes later, a Payton Sparks steal and dunk highlighted a 9-0 Indiana lead and caused Gard to call a timeout of his own. The lead was down to seven, and the Hoosiers were showing life. 

After the timeout, Wisconsin’s Klesmitt continued to shoot the ball unconsciously and put any hopes Indiana had at a comeback to rest. His 20 straight points for the Badgers was one of the best offensive stretches for a single player in college basketball this season. The guard finished with 26 points on 8-11 from the field, 5-7 from behind the arc, and 5-6 from the free throw line. 

This offensive explosion combined with CJ Gunn’s ejection made for a brutal stretch of basketball for Indiana, allowing Wisconsin to go up by as much as 23. 

“We got it to seven, we were right where we needed to be,” Woodson said to Don Fischer after the defeat. “Then we had the flare up with CJ, and it went haywire. Stuff that can't happen.”

Indiana was defeated by a final score of 91-79. Wisconsin’s 91 points were the second most they’ve scored all season and their most in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers surrendered 1.40 points per possession which marked a season-worst. Not even Auburn, who scored 104 points against Indiana’s defense, scored that much per possesion. 

Statistically, this was actually Indiana’s best game offensively in conference play. Their 79 points and 1.22 points per possession were both highs in their eight conference games. The Hoosiers shot 53.8% from the field, 42.9% from three, and 81.0% from the line. Defense was Indiana’s ultimate downfall, though, as Wisconsin shot better in all three categories. 

Malik Reneau’s dominate performance offensively was one of the lone bright spots for Indiana. Without Ware, the Hoosiers lost almost 15 points per game in production and needed that offense to come elsewhere. Reneau stepped up to the challenge, racking up 28 points and 8 boards. He did this on 12-21 shooting overall, 1-2 from behind the arc, and 3-4 from the line. He played almost the entire game, logging 39 minutes. 

With the loss, Indiana moves to 12-7 overall and 4-4 in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers were unable to snap the losing streak in Madison, but perhaps the more disappointing part is the lack of improvement for Mike Woodson’s squad from the beginning of the season to now. 

“We’re a new team,” Woodson said after the loss. “We’re still trying to figure each other out.”

While this may be true, Indiana needs to “figure each other out” soon or they’ll find themselves in the NIT bracket, or worse. The Hoosiers are now 0-6 against Quad-I opponents, losing by an average margin of 16.8 points. The road doesn’t get any easier, as Indiana heads to Champaign on Saturday January 27th to take on #14 Illinois.