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IU snatches defeat from the jaws of victory in epic collapse to Wisconsin

This year’s Hoosier squad looked different from years past… for a half. 1998 remains the last time Indiana was able to win in Madison, Wisconsin. However, this game especially left the Indiana faithful bewildered. After playing arguably their best half of the season and accumulating a 22-point lead they couldn’t possibly lose, right?

Shockingly, Indiana lost 64-59 to the No. 22 ranked Wisconsin Badgers.

It was clear from the opening tip that Mike Woodson had preached playing with urgency to his team. IU was poised to perform and get its first signature win of the year. IU put together a masterful first half on both sides of the ball.

Offensively the Hoosiers played a satisfying brand of basketball in the half court and in transition. In the half-court no one was standing — there was constant movement and cutting, and the shot selection was excellent. Shooting nearly 55 percent, IU built a 22-point lead with 1:20 to play in the first half. IU even hit five of eight 3-point shots and only missed one free throw.

Unfortunately for IU, things evened out in the worst possible way as the second half spelled disaster. Wisconsin came back from the dead and by the end of the night, Indiana had taken its place.

Indiana scored a season-low 17 points in the second half. IU missed easy looks at the rim and open looks from 3 stopped falling. Six misses from the free-throw line compounded their issues late, making it more difficult to stop Wisconsin’s momentum.

“We have to fix that. We have to make free throws on the road in tight games,” Woodson told Don Fischer on his postgame radio show.

Trayce Jackson-Davis had a season-low nine points on 10 shots and got his least amount of post-up opportunities all season. In the backcourt, Xavier Johnson posted an active stat line despite getting into foul trouble yet again. Johnson attempted to take over in the games biggest moments but seemed out of control when playing downhill and driving to the basket. He finished with seven assists but strayed away from facilitating down the stretch and IU certainly would have benefited from better ball movement.

The Badgers relied heavily on their leading scorer Johnny Davis to lead them back. Davis competed on both sides of the floor in the second half, finishing with 23 points on nearly 50 percent shooting and was the only Badger in double figures. His final bucket came with 1:17 on the game clock. With time running out on the shot clock, Davis fired a fadeaway 3 from the right corner and it settled in to give Wisconsin its first lead since the early moments of the contest.

Afterwards Woodson acknowledged the significance of the shot.

“The biggest bucket was Davis’ 3 to put them up,” Woodson said. “We couldn’t answer after that.”

The 22-point comeback matched the largest in Wisconsin’s program history set back to 1976.

IU continues to display the disturbing trend of being the Big Ten’s Jekyll and Hyde. The Hoosiers show flashes of brilliance but playing a full 40 minutes still eludes them.

Playing two halves of efficient basketball is a part of what separates the good teams from the great ones. IU will not be able to survive these sloppy halves against conference opponents. Woodson understands this better than anyone and put himself front and center after the loss.

“I’ve got to get them over the hump… This was a winnable game,” Woodson said.

IU has the chance to get right against Merrimack in Bloomington on Sunday.

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