IU turned in what I generally would consider its best effort in several weeks, but allowed the Badgers some key offensive rebounds down the stretch and fell 57-50, for IU's ninth straight loss to Wisconsin and eleventh straight loss in Madison. Is there anything more frustrating as a sports fan then to see your team play below its potential and drop a couple of games that it should win, and then play much better against a tougher opponent, yet not well enough to win? That's how I feel about last night's game. If IU had shown the same defensive commitment against Minnesota or Nebraska, IU would have won both of those games comfortably. I hope the overall performance is a sign of things to come, but it's still frustrating.
The overall numbers don't look all that pretty. IU allowed Wisconsin to score 1.05 points per possessions, compared to .93 for IU, but that is skewed a bit by the Badgers' 6-0 run to finish the game in the final two minutes. The frustrating part about those final two minutes is that Wisconsin did not score a single field goal. Instead, the Badgers went 6-6 from the line and had three offensive rebounds and two defensive rebounds. IU had no rebounds at either end of the court during that time. Much has been said about how late Cody Zeller came back into the game (with 1:03 remaining, with IU trailing by 3 after leaving with his fourth foul at 5:21, with IU trailing by 1). I tend to agree, and I might have been inclined to simply let him play with four. IU trailed by one when Zeller left, and I think in that situation, with the risk of the game getting out of hand, perhaps it makes sense to simply let your best unit play. On the other hand, it simply wasn't Cody's night. His 2-7 shooting performance was his worst of the season, and the Badgers' Jared Berggren blocked three of his shots. Zeller sat much of the game because of foul trouble, and at least three of the calls were questionable at best (including and absolute textbook charge taken in the first half). Still, however, I don't think Cody quite knew how to handle the physical defense of Wisconsin. My purely amateur opinion is that he needs to be more aggressive in husing his body to create space. On the other hand, given the way the game was called, he may have been understantably reluctant to create contact.
- Verdell Jones III scored 12 points in the first half but none in the second.
- Christian Watford scored 12 points on 4-6 shooting, but was uncharacteristically weak (2-6) from the line.
- IU had only 10 turnovers, but in a 54 possession game that comes out to 18.6 percent, which is too high against a team that doesn't make a habit of forcing turnovers.
- Will Sheehey finally got the increased playing time we have been demanding, and...didn't make much of it: 1-6 from the field and 3 boards in 25 minutes.
- I don't like to complain about officiating, and I know that IU has benefited from a strong homecourt advantage over the years, but it's pretty astounding that Wisconsin was whistled for only 10 fouls in a game in which IU took 38 of its 46 attempts from inside the arc.