On this day, and for a bunch more until a possible Big Ten tourney rematch, the Badgers still rule.
Their 64-59 victory over the No. 2 Hoosiers Tuesday night gave them sole possession of the conference lead and extended their dominance of the Hoosiers to 11 straight games over the past six years.
Wisconsin (13-4 overall, 4-0 in the Big Ten) won with defense (holding the nation’s top-scoring team to 28 points below its average), toughness and execution. It thrived in one of America’s most intimidating arenas.
IU (15-2, 3-1) had its 11-game home winning streak stopped.
Cody Zeller led the Hoosiers with 23 points and nine rebounds. Christian Watford had 11 points. Victor Oladiop had10.
IU controlled the rebounding, but not the tempo. Until Tuesday night, its fewest points had been 66 points.
Wisconsin slowed down the Hoosiers’ full-throttle pace in the first half, but had no answer for Zeller, who was 8-for-8 for 18 points along with three rebounds. The Badgers countered with balance, building leads as large as five points before a late Watford three-pointer made it a 32-31 halftime score.
The Hoosiers had another uninspired start to a second half, and Wisconsin made them pay. Zeller missed his first five shots. IU had no assists in the first eight minutes. The Badgers got three-pointers from Sam Dekker and Mike Bruesewitz and surged ahead 47-39.
With less than 10 minutes left, the Hoosiers trailed 51-41.
It was time for a surge. The Hoosiers cut it to six with seven minutes left. It was four with 5:15 remaining. It was one with four minutes to go.
Wisconsin hit consecutive jumpers to push ahead by five, at 58-53, and that was just enough of a cushion.
Bruesewitz clinched it by hitting three of four crunch-time free throws while the crowd chanted air ball, a reference to his badly missed three-pointer early in the game.