Published January 13, 2015
Ryan Evans scored 16 points and snagged eight rebounds as No. 22 Wisconsin extended its winning streak versus Indiana to 12 straight, downing the third-ranked Hoosiers, 68-56, on Saturday in Big Ten Conference semifinal action.
Ben Brust had 12 points, while Sam Dekker and Jared Berggren each had 11 for the Badgers (23-10), who advance to the title game on Sunday to face Ohio State.
"I just again can't tell you how proud I am of the defensive effort on a very good offensive team," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "So every guy that went in there, was pretty much sticking to the rules and trying to force Indiana to make some tough shots. I thought our guys accomplished that, and then we had streaks where we were hitting them. Fortunately made enough free throws at the end to keep that separation."
Christian Watford had 14 points and Cody Zeller recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards for the Hoosiers (27-6), who were looking for their first-ever Big Ten playoff title after winning the regular season outright.
Indiana got within 50-49 on two Zeller free throws with just under 10 minutes to play, but the contest soon changed as the Badgers stifled the Hoosiers to close the game.
Wisconsin reeled off an impressive 15-4 spurt that Mike Bruesewitz capped off with two free throws with 38 seconds remaining, putting an end to the Hoosiers' quest for a Big Ten title.
Watford's layup at the 3:42 mark gave IU just its fourth point during the run, while Indiana managed just seven total points following Zeller's free throws.
The Badgers didn't attempt a free throw until Dekker missed the end of a three-point play with 12 minutes to play, but scored their final 10 points from the charity stripe to secure the victory.
"We had some critical turnovers at key times," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "We had some critical second shots we gave up at key times. The biggest story for us is we've been defending the three the last six, seven games at an incredibly high level, and today we didn't. We didn't."
Remy Abell split a pair of free throws 6 1/2 minutes into the second half to put Indiana in front 41-40 before Dekker capped off a 10-2 spurt with seven consecutive points to give Wisconsin a 50-43 edge with 11:16 remaining.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Watford and Abell -- sandwiched in between a Traevon Jackson layup -- put the Hoosiers ahead 20-14 just over 10 minutes into the contest. Wisconsin, though, closed the half on a 20-11 surge for a 34-31 lead at the break.
The Badgers' success towards the end of the first half related to their 3- point shooting, as 12 of the team's final 14 points before break came from behind the arc.
It was the 160th meeting in the all-time series which Indiana still leads, 93-67, though Wisconsin has won 18 of the last 21 matchups ... The Badgers have held eight of their last nine opponents to 60 points or fewer ... It was Wisconsin's seventh victory this season in 10 games versus ranked opponents, including the third in as many meetings with teams in the Top 5.