CHICAGO – Indiana was denied a spot in the Big Ten tournament’s championship game by its nemesis.
Wisconsin, the No. 4 seed, defeated the No. 1-seeded Hoosiers 68-56 in the semifinals Saturday in the United Center.
It was the 12th straight win for the Badgers (23-10) over IU (27-6), which has to wait until tonight’s selection show to find out if winning the Big Ten regular-season title is enough for the Hoosiers to get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
(The Badgers) are a very good team, extremely well coached, disciplined, great staffs, inside-outside scoring, great balance, and just an all-around great team. They are an excellent team and have been for a long, long time, said Indiana coach Tom Crean, who shared an extended handshake with the coach he lost the conference coach of the year award to – Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan – after the game.
As long as (Ryan’s) the coach there, they will be.
Wisconsin’s win in the semifinals had similarities to the Badgers’ 64-59 win at Indiana on Jan. 15.
The Hoosiers struggled shooting in the second half, going 9 for 28 (32.1 percent) and 5 for 17 (29.4 percent) on three-pointers. In IU’s regular-season loss, it went 7 for 26 from the floor (26.9 percent) in the second half and 3 of 12 on three-pointers (25 percent).
We really wanted to win this game. We have to bounce back because we have big weeks coming up, and we have to get back right because we want to do good in the big dance, said Hoosiers guard Victor Oladipo, who had 10 points Saturday.
(Wisconsin) slows down the ball a lot. They use a lot of shot clock, and they run their plays to a T. A lot of teams are probably going to look to beat us that way.
Indiana took a 22-16 lead with 7:55 to play in the opening half, but Wisconsin reeled off the next 10 points. The Badgers scored their first 18 points in the paint, but they got three-pointers from Ben Brust and Mike Bruesewitz during the run.
The Badgers pushed their lead to 34-26 with 2:26 left in the first half, but Cody Zeller scored on a layup and Christian Watford hit a three-pointer to cut the Hoosiers’ deficit to 34-31 at halftime.
Wisconsin opened the second half by scoring the first six points, but Indiana came back with a 10-0 run for a 41-40 lead with 13:27 to play. After a Brust three-pointer and IU’s Jordan Hulls sank a jumper to tie the game at 43, Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker scored the next seven points with two layups and a three-pointer to give the Badgers a 50-43 advantage with 11:16 to play.
Indiana got its deficit down to 50-49 with 9:45 to play thanks to two free throws each from Watford and Zeller and an Oladipo jumper, but Wisconsin never let go of the lead and held IU to just three more field goals the rest of the game.
They answered the bell every time we made a comeback, Crean said. The biggest disappointment is every time we had something working we didn’t stick with it enough.
Wisconsin hit 25 of 49 shots (51 percent), went 7 for 18 (38.9 percent) on three-pointers, blocked 10 shots and had a 35-30 rebounding edge to make up for its 15 turnovers that led to 22 points for Indiana. Evans scored 16; Brust had 12; and Jared Berggren and Dekker each had 11.
Watford had 14 points for IU, and Zeller had 13 points and 11 rebounds for his 10th double-double this year.
Obviously, we wanted to get this win today, Zeller said.
We’ll learn from it. We’ll figure out what we did wrong. We’ll make the corrections and get ready for next week because that’s what’s most important.