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Wisconsin men’s basketball: Badgers storm back to beat Indiana

Wisconsin came back from 22 points back to take down Indiana.

Indiana v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team (8-1 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) came into Wednesday night's contest with Indiana sporting a pair of winning streaks. The Badgers not only entered winners of their last five games but also had hopes of extending their home winning streak against Indiana (7-2 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) to 19 games in a row.

Led by Johnny Davis the Badgers were able to keep both streaks alive in dramatic, comeback fashion with a 64-59 win.

Early on Indiana was able to take a 19-9 advantage as the Hoosiers took advantage of the Badgers pick-and-roll defense and four crucial offensive rebounds. The Indiana run didn’t stop there though, as the Hoosiers went on an extended 17-2 run over a seven-minute stretch to push the lead to 17 as Wisconsin couldn’t get anything going offensively.

Over the final minutes of the first half, the Badgers were unable to make any headway, as the Hoosiers stifled Wisconsin’s offense to carry a 17-point lead into halftime.

Wisconsin was able to settle into a rhythm coming out of halftime and cut into the Indiana advantage behind some improved defense and more energy. By the 11 minute mark the Badgers had trimmed the game down to 10, outscoring the Hoosiers 16-9 in the first nine minutes of action.

The duo of Chris Vogt and Ben Carlson would help further cut the deficit over the next handful of minutes off the bench, as the Badgers found themselves within five with 3:34 left to play.

By the last minute of play, Wisconsin was able to take the lead after Johnny Davis hit a critical three late in the shot-clock. From there, some clutch free throws by Chucky Hepburn would finish things and give the Badgers their first Big Ten win of the season.

Notable stat lines:

  • Johnny Davis —> 23 points (8-of-17 from the floor), nine rebounds, one assist
  • Chris Vogt —> nine points (4-of-6 from the floor), six rebounds, one steal
  • Tyler Wahl —> seven points (2-of-7 from the floor), 12 rebounds, three assists, three blocks
  • Race Thompson (Indiana) —> 12 points (6-of-11 from the floor), nine rebounds

Three things that stood out:

No. 1: Shorthanded bench

Wisconsin has relied heavily on their starters this season for production. For example, last weekend against Marquette, Lorne Bowman was the only bench player to play more than 10 minutes. Against Indiana, the Badgers had even fewer options off the bench to turn to with Bowman, Markus Ilver, and Jahcobi Neath all out sick (not COVID-19 related).

To make matters worse, Chucky Hepburn got into foul trouble forcing the Badgers to play point guard-less for large chunks of time with Bowman unable to play. Brad Davison stepped up to run the offense with Jordan Davis seeing more playing time as well.

In the second half, however, Chris Vogt and Ben Carlson gave Greg Gard some great minutes off the bench. The two forwards were active rebounders and gave the team a big boost of energy on both ends of the court. For a team that desperately needed signs of life off the bench, Vogt and Carlson answered the call in the second half, combining for 12 points and 10 rebounds. The duo was a huge reason for Wisconsin's comeback.

No. 2: Defense

Wisconsin’s calling card all year long was on the defensive end. The Badgers entered the game as one of the better defensive teams in the country according to some metrics. Against Indiana, the effort level and execution were lacking in the first half. Indiana was able to take advantage of some poor pick-and-roll defense to create easy looks both inside and out. In the first half, Indiana shot 55% from the floor overall, and 63% from three with a whopping 1.78 points per possession.

On the other end of the court, Indiana was able to pressure the Badgers and make life difficult. As a result, Wisconsin struggled to generate much offense. The Badgers finished the first half shooting only 31% with a smattering of scoring droughts and only one three-point make.

In the second half, Wisconsin did a much better job communicating on switches and closing out. As a result, the Badgers were able to slow Indiana down. Indiana only shot 22.6% from the floor and failed to make a three in the final 20 minutes. The Badgers defense and energy level were the difference in the second half, as they held Indiana to only 17 points.

No. 3: Fight

The first half was ugly. The Badgers were steamrolled early on.

However, kudos to Greg Gard and the staff for making some adjustments at halftime and for the team putting up a fight in the second stanza after being left for dead. Not only did the team put on a show in the second half with their gritty performance, but the Kohl Center was electric as well. The Badgers have now shown on multiple occasions this season that they can respond to adversity, and the young group continues to grow and gel each game.

Up next: After two straight games at the Kohl Center, the Badgers will head back out on the road for a date with the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday morning. Tip time is set for 11 a.m. CT and will be aired on Big Ten Network.