Just four days after a monumental and dominating win over No. 17 Florida State, Indiana struggled mightily on the road to Wisconsin 84-64 in its first loss of the season.
The 8-1 Hoosiers not only lost the game, but lost all of the momentum they had built throughout the early portion of the season. The team cruised past seven easy low-major non-conference opponents and seemed to prove itself with the Florida State win, but the Wisconsin game put a dent in all of that success.
The bottom line and conclusion from the loss in Madison is that this IU team still has a long way to go and a lot to figure out. All of their offensive and defensive identity was lost on Saturday afternoon.
The game was expected to be difficult; Indiana had not won in Madison since 1998. At the same time, the Hoosiers were playing a 4-4 team and purely looked like a shell of their usual selves.
IU’s defense let the Badgers have a field day, allowing 84 points to a team that had lost their past three games and had not scored more than 54 points in any of them. Wisconsin shot a stout 53.6 percent while shooting 40 percent from the 3-point line, 10 percent better than its season average. The Badgers also took advantage of their free throws, attempting eight fewer than Indiana, but converting on 16 of their 18 shots from the charity stripe.
“We knew we were going to deal with a sharp group who was ready, and they were,” Indiana head coach Archie Miller said on Wisconsin’s offense. “Very sharp offensively, we didn’t have a whole lot of resistance.”
Kobe King and Nate Reuvers led the charge of Wisconsin’s offensive attack. King dropped 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting, burning Indiana particularly in the midrange game.
Reuvers had 20 points while making two-thirds of his looks from the field. He gave Indiana’s post defense fits both down low and around the perimeter. He showed the ability to hit from three (2-for-3 from deep) and take it from the top of the key and drive to the bucket.
On the other side of the floor, Indiana’s offense was just as underwhelming as the defense. The team equaled its lowest scoring output of the season with 64 points and shot its second-worst shooting percentage of the year of 42 percent.
Nothing about the Indiana offense looked comfortable and as a whole looked very out of sync. This is the same Indiana team that was the sixth-highest scoring offense in the country coming into the game, averaging 85.6 points per game.
Nobody in particular was spectacular for Indiana either. Durham had 17 points to lead the team, with eight of those points coming from free throws. The other two leading scorers were Devonte Green and Justin Smith, both with 10 points.
The dismal performance on both ends of the ball was indicative of a team playing its first road game of the season. The typical struggles of playing at the Kohl Center for the Hoosiers coupled with their comfort of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall made for some serious trouble.
Moving forward, it won’t get any easier for Indiana as the team will be put to the test again on Tuesday. The Hoosiers will venture to Madison Square Garden in New York City for the Jimmy V. Classic. Indiana will play a respectable Connecticut team that is 6-2.
“We have a quick turnaround,” Miller said. “This feeling that’s in us right now, it’s not going to go away until you work itself out and you got to earn that right, and we’re going to try real hard to do that as we take the floor on Tuesday.”