Indiana hands Wisconsin its first loss
The Reuters Sports Xchange
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Wisconsin is undefeated no more. And it was a visit to Indiana, of all places, that finally stung the Badgers.
Point guard Yogi Ferrell scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the second half and unranked Indiana rallied to beat No. 3 Wisconsin, snapping a run of futility against their league rival with a 75-72 victory Tuesday night.
“That’s disappointment,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “Did you go to dances in high school? It’s just like you’ve got to ask someone else. You’ve got another game on the schedule. Our guys have worked extremely hard to be where they are. Hopefully we have some more left in us.”
Center Noah Vonleh had 10 points, six rebounds and four blocks for the Hoosiers (12-5, 2-2 Big Ten Conference), who overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half and scored 12 points in the final 31/2 minutes to hold off Wisconsin.
Indiana got 13 points apiece from guard Stanford Robinson and forward Will Sheehey to secure its first victory in the series since Jan. 31, 2007.
The Hoosiers beat a top-five opponent for the sixth time in the last three seasons, surviving two 3-point attempts on the Badgers’ final possession.
Point guard Traevon Jackson had 21 points, guard Ben Brust had 13 and center Frank Kaminsky and forward Josh Gasser 11 each for Wisconsin (16-1, 3-1), which had beaten Indiana 12 times in a row before Tuesday.
“We’re not going to have a pizza party and get some ice cream and say, ‘We can’t play any better,’” Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said. “I’m not going to say something miraculous has happened. We’ve got a lot of potential.”
Wisconsin’s loss left Arizona, Syracuse and Wichita State as the nation’s only unbeaten teams.
Fans at Assembly Hall stormed the court after their Hoosiers put a damper on what had been Wisconsin’s best start in school history.
The Hoosier fans roared all night, reaching a crescendo when Ferrell cleared space with a jab step and buried a 3-pointer - his first make after seven misses from downtown - that gave Indiana the lead for good at 68-65 with 2:55 to go.
“If I had to make one, I’m glad it was that last one,” Ferrell said.
The star sophomore attempted 24 shots, 11 more than any teammate, and made 4-of-5 free throws, throwing the team on his shoulders. Ferrell struggled to finish at the basket early, but his concerted efforts at getting there drew a few fouls and produced offense when he dished out of the penetration. Indiana had 26 points in the paint by the break and shot 51.6 percent for the game.
After going 2-of-9 in the first half, Ferrell shot 8-of-15 the rest of the way, leading Indiana’s furious comeback.
The Badgers missed all but one of their shots over a five-minute stretch midway through the second half, a span in which they started with a 52-42 lead and fell behind 56-54. Ferrell hit a pair of jumpers late in the 12-4 run, which was halted by a Jackson 3-pointer with 7:34 to play.
“He was unguardable,” Crean said of Ferrell. “He’s a big-game player. When he’s not settling, he’s fantastic. He made the big difference.”
Another jumper from Ferrell pushed Indiana ahead by five with two minutes left before Kaminsky made a layup. After a free throw from Robinson, Kaminsky answered with a three-point play to bring the Badgers within 71-70. A goaltending call provided the Hoosiers a three-point advantage before Kaminsky scored again with 29 seconds left. But Ferrell calmly drained a pair of free throws to close the scoring.
The Badgers, who averaged 8.2 turnovers, fewest in the nation, while winning their first 16 games, had six in the first half and wound up with 10.
“Our guys became so tentative,” Ryan said. “It really surprised me that our guys were not playing the way we normally play.”
Mistake-prone Indiana finished with just nine giveaways and improved ballhandling is largely what has allowed the Hoosiers to win two straight.
“Turnovers were hurting us,” Crean said. “The elephant in the room was visible for everybody. We’ve tweaked or deleted some things. We’re not good enough to play through those.”
On Tuesday, Indiana didn’t have to, and as a result, things are looking up with a marquee victory finally on the resume.
“This team needed this,” Crean said. “It’s amazing what happens when some real confidence starts to come.”
Down by eight in the early going, Indiana closed the first half on an 8-4 run, a spurt Sheehey started with a dunk and one that sent the Hoosiers to the locker room down 35-34 -- even though Wisconsin shot 57 percent in the first half.
Driving baskets from Robinson bookended an 8-0 run by Indiana, with a thunderous dunk by forward Troy Williams and two Ferrell free throws in between, that tied it at 18 midway through the period.
BADGER BITS: Indiana F Jeremy Hollowell, who had started 14 of the first 15 games, sat out for a second straight contest as he deals with what coach Tom Crean described as “focus” issues. ...Wisconsin attempted just four free throws in the game, making one. ... Indiana F Troy Williams’ two-hand slam at 11:31 of the first half shook the basket support for about 10 seconds. ... The Badgers appeared in the top five of the AP poll in just one other season: 2006-07.