MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin had already bounced back from its
rough start in the Big Ten. Now Jordan Taylor and the 25th-ranked
Badgers know they can win even on a bad shooting night.
Despite going 4 for 17 from 3-point range, Wisconsin fell back
on its defense to beat Indiana (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP) by a 57-50 score on Thursday.
"We just had to keep believing that we have a good team,"
forward Jared Berggren said. "We really believe that. Despite the
struggles at the start of the Big Ten, we knew what we had here. We
knew we had guys that weren't going to give up easy."
Now, Berggren said, the Badgers believe they are back in the Big
Ten title race.
"I just like the grit in this group," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan
Verdell Jones and Christian Watford scored 12 points each for
the Hoosiers (16-5, 4-5), who have lost four of their past five
games. The Hoosiers snapped a three-game losing streak with a
victory at Penn State on Sunday.
The Badgers have won nine straight over Indiana.
"They play at a snail's pace, and you've got to steal
possessions against them," Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said. "We
struggled getting those balls."
Berggren had a career-high five blocks, leading the way in a
strong defensive effort against Indiana standout freshman forward
"Jared did a great job on Zeller," Taylor said. "He's
obviously one of the best players in the country, and what Jared
was able to do was impressive."
Zeller scored seven points on 2-for-7 shooting.
"I had to limit his touches, and just try to battle with him,"
Berggren said. "Just try to make everything difficult for him and
I was able to come up with a couple blocks."
Jones didn't score in the second half.
Mike Bruesewitz and Taylor had 10 points each for the Badgers.
Taylor shot 5 for 14 from the field.
"Obviously I didn't shoot the ball that great," Taylor said.
"I'm not too worried about that. Like I said, any time you cannot
shoot the ball well and go out and get a win against a really good
team is always fun, especially a team like that, that has so many
scorers, to hold them to 50 points. That's pretty impressive."
With Wisconsin leading 49-48, Josh Gasser found Bruesewitz open
inside, and he slammed it home with both hands for a 51-48 lead
with 2:47 left.
Then Watford missed two free throws -- but he got another chance
after Wisconsin lost the ball. He hit a long jumper in transition,
cutting the lead to one with 2:05 left.
Evans then came up with a critical rebound and was fouled. He
made two free throws to put Wisconsin up by three with 1:04
remaining. Coming out of a timeout, Zeller missed inside for the
Taylor missed but Bruesewitz came up with a rebound and was
fouled. He hit two free throws to put the game away.
Indiana came into Thursday's game shooting 50 percent from the
field this season, best in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, has been even more reliant than usual on
3-point shooting. When the Badgers are on, they're tough to beat --
and when they're not, they have typically struggled, although they
turned that around Thursday.
Indiana played to the scouting report in the first half,
shooting 50 percent from the field and taking a 27-25 lead.
Wisconsin was 2 of 8 from 3-point range in the first half, with
Taylor going 0 for 3.
There was a fair amount of NFL star power in the stands, as
Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt and former Green Bay
Packers right tackle Mark Tauscher -- both ex-Badgers -- attended the
Watt probably appreciated the defense.
"When shots aren't going down, you've got to rely on your
defense a little bit," Berggren said. "We did a pretty good job
of being able to do that tonight."
Mississippi State freshman guard Malik Newman will withdraw from the NBA draft, but sources told ESPN he might explore other opportunities besides returning to Mississippi State.
Seton Hall sophomore Isaiah Whitehead will stay in the NBA draft and not return for his junior season.
Washington State's trio of Josh Hawkinson, Conor Clifford and Ike Iroegbu have withdrawn from the NBA draft and will play their senior season with the Cougars.