The No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers earned their 16th straight home win over the Indiana Hoosiers with a 91-79 victory on Friday night. In a back-and-forth affair filled with impressive shot-making, the Badgers made the plays down the stretch to hold off a scrappy Indiana squad.
Second Half Surge Propels Wisconsin
Wisconsin trailed by 1 at halftime but used an early 13-3 run in the second half to grab control. Max Klesmit scored 14 of his career-high 29 points during that pivotal stretch.
“He’s one of the best shooters I’ve ever coached,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said of Klesmit. “When he gets into a rhythm like that, we want to keep feeding him.”
The junior wing shot 11-of-16 from the field and 5-of-7 from three-point range. After Indiana closed to within 73-69, Klesmit hit back-to-back triples to swell the lead back to 10. His scoring eruption came on a night when National Player of the Year candidate Tyler Wahl struggled, finishing with just 8 points on 3-of-10 shooting.
Depleted Indiana Keeps Pace Early
Playing without injured star Xavier Johnson, Indiana received heroic efforts from several role players to stay competitive. Freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino continued his stellar play of late with 21 points and 4 assists. Senior Race Thompson added 18 points before fouling out, while sophomore Jordan Geronimo provided a huge lift off the bench with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
“I loved the toughness we showed being down some guys,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said. “We need that fight and resiliency every night in this league.”
The Hoosiers shot 54.7% for the game but couldn’t get enough stops down the stretch. Wisconsin finished at 53.7% despite entering the night 13th in the Big Ten in field goal percentage.
Indiana also struggled to control the glass, getting outrebounded 36-25. That included an 11-4 disparity in offensive rebounds for the Badgers.
Table 1: Key Stats
|Field Goal %
Home Court Dominance Continues
Wisconsin has now won 27 of the past 30 home meetings against Indiana dating back to 1998. That included an active 10-game winning streak in Madison.
“They’ve had our number here, no question about it,” Woodson admitted. “We have to get the guys to believe we can reverse that trend at some point.”
Despite entering the night just 1-3 in their previous 4 games, the Badgers looked much sharper offensively while improving to 14-1 at the Kohl Center this season. Point guard Chucky Hepburn broke out of his recent slump with 19 points, while senior forward Steven Crowl nearly had a double-double with 14 points and 9 rebounds.
“It felt good to be back home,” Hepburn said. “Our energy and execution were at a much higher level. We knew Indiana would come to play with nothing to lose.”
Wisconsin hits the road for games at Nebraska and Illinois next week. The Badgers stomped the Cornhuskers 73-52 in Madison on New Year’s Day. Wisconsin then begins a critical 4-game homestand starting Jan. 31 against #5 Purdue.
For injury-ravaged Indiana (10-7, 1-5 Big Ten), the tough schedule continues with consecutive home games upcoming against #18 Illinois and #1 Ohio State. The Hoosiers likely need to steal one of those contests to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes afloat playing without Xavier Johnson.
“We’re getting better and fighting like crazy,” Woodson noted. “But we have to start winning some of these games against elite competition if we want to have any chance of making noise in March.”
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