The last time Indiana won at Wisconsin, most of the current Hoosiers players were not born.
That last victory came in 1998, just a week after the Badgers' arena, the Kohl Center, officially opened. Since then, Indiana has lost 17 games in a row in the building.
The Hoosiers will try to avoid that streak reaching 18 games tonight, when they travel to Wisconsin to take on the No. 8 Badgers. Indiana is also looking to run its Big Ten winning streak to three games. It climbed back to .500 in conference play at 2-2 with a 63-55 win over Maryland on Monday.
That victory over the Terrapins was costly, however. Sophomore Armaan Franklin, who is averaging 12.7 points and shooting a team-best 47.6% from 3-point range, rolled his ankle in the first half and did not return.
Coach Archie Miller said Franklin is “doubtful” to play against the Badgers. He lamented the loss of his best backcourt player but found a silver lining, as well.
“I think it is a good opportunity for (other) guys to get in there and play,” Miller said of Franklin's injury. “That is what is going to be needed here moving forward as we head into the rest of the season. Guys are going to need to step up when their number is called and they are going to have to do a good job in the areas they can. The more experience they get the better they will be.
“At one point (against Maryland) we had three freshmen on the floor for the first time in a long time with Jordan (Geronimo), Anthony (Leal) and Trey (Galloway). (That) is going to be what is needed.”
Outside of Galloway, Indiana's freshmen have played no more than bit roles this season. That started to change against Maryland with Leal and Geronimo getting some important minutes in the second half. The group of freshmen could play a significant role while Franklin is out, and Leal said they feel ready to contribute.
“We're all encouraging each other and I know that we're all eager to contribute as much as we can,” said Leal, the 2020 Indiana Mr. Basketball. “We know that if the opportunity calls and it's our name called to where we need to step up, we're all ready to do so. We're all just excited to try and get a win, especially at Wisconsin, which is a place that we all know we haven't won as a program in so many years.”
Among the other players who need to step up is redshirt sophomore Jerome Hunter. He's played inside most of this season as a fill-in for Race Thompson, but he moved to the wing after Franklin's injury and hit a couple big 3s in the second half against Maryland.
Outside of Franklin, Hunter is the only Hoosier hitting at least 30% from 3-point range. The freshmen haven't gotten going from deep yet, and veteran guards Al Durham and Rob Phinisee are hitting 29% apiece.
Wisconsin is ninth in the country in 3-point shooting at 41.4% and Indiana will likely have to make a few from downtown to keep up, even if its defense plays well.
“It's just loosening up,” Leal said of what needs to change from 3-point range. “We get good shots, so it's just a matter of being able to step up and knock them down, which I do believe is going to come as we keep working off the court and we keep believing in ourselves and be ready to shoot. That kind of thing is going to pay off because we are getting good shots, and we know we're capable of knocking them down.
“When those start to fall at the rate that we know they can, we're going to be a really great team.”
The Badgers have not played in a week because a scheduled game against Penn State was canceled for coronavirus protocols. Wisconsin has five players averaging double-figure scoring and is holding opponents to 37.9% shooting, 20th in the country.
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Kohl Center, Madison, Wis.
Records: Indiana (7-4, 2-2 Big Ten), No. 8 Wisconsin (9-2, 3-1)
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: 92.3 FM