Indiana left the Kohl Center on Thursday night with the expected result, an 80-73 double-overtime loss to No. 8 Wisconsin.
The Hoosiers have now dropped 18 straight games in Madison, but the skid could’ve — and arguably should’ve — ended this time. Let’s talk it through.
Here are Three Things:
This is the kind of night you look back on in March
IU didn’t lose this one for a lack of effort. The fight was there, the desire to win was evident. But the Hoosiers still don’t know how to finish in close games against good teams. Or perhaps it’s just a talent issue. Maybe it’s both.
Without question, playing without Armaan Franklin put Indiana at a disadvantage from the jump, but even after falling into a 12-point hole late in the first half, IU found a way to make this a ballgame. Hell, the Hoosiers almost won it. It was the execution in crucial, end-of-game moments that wasn’t there.
Say what you will about the officiating — and buddy, don’t you worry; we’ll say some things in a moment — but Trayce Jackson-Davis has to finish at the end of regulation after toying with Nate Reuvers on the block. Al Durham and Rob Phinisee can’t basically run into one another and lose possession coming out of a timeout at the end of the first overtime. There were other moments, too. The point is, a lot was already stacked against IU on this night, and even though the Hoosiers gave themselves a chance to hang around, the quality of the plays and the quality of the execution at winning time wasn’t good enough. It typically isn’t with this group. Indiana needed a closer and didn’t have one, and by the time Tyler Wahl went off and sealed the win in overtime, the Hoosiers were toast — tired, gassed, done. Game over. Group this night with the Florida State game because, on a night when it felt like there were a bunch of positives, another valuable, winnable road trip slipped away.
Anthony Leal earned a closer look
The freshman from Bloomington had a terrific first trip to Madison, giving IU some very good minutes on both ends. But it was his shooting — his trademark and long-awaited stroke from deep — that helped fill the hole in Indiana’s lineup.
With Franklin out, there was (and will continue to be) an opportunity for one or two guys to make the most of extra minutes. On Thursday, it was Leal who seized the moment, coming off the bench to score nine points on three 3-pointers. Entering play, Leal had attempted only six 3s on the year, making just one. Against the Badgers, he shot it six times from deep and fed some important sequences for the Hoosiers.
His first two 3s helped Indiana chip away at Wisconsin’s 12-point lead before halftime. His third was a confident shot from the wing that got Indiana started in overtime and kept its momentum rolling. There, at the end of the night, Leal found himself on the court in moments that really mattered. He earned the right to be there, pairing his big shots with solid guarding on the other end, and it feels like we’ll see a bit more of him in those situations during the games to come.
The officiating was absolute *insert peach emoji*
I hate being this guy, I hate being this guy, I hate being this guy. Please believe me when I say that I really hate being this guy. But I’m going to be this guy. Rob Riley, Steve McJunkins and Rob Kueneman ought to be ashamed of their work on Thursday, an embarrassing display of officiating.
I still think Jackson-Davis should’ve finished on the last play of regulation, but he was also fouled twice before he even reached the rim! In overtime, Leal was whistled for a personal despite playing textbook defense on Reuvers. It was a huge call! And it was botched.
For the game, Indiana shot only eight free throws to Wisconsin’s 20. In the first nine and a half minutes of the second half, Indiana had seven fouls while Wisconsin had just two. And the thing is, it didn’t feel like the game unfolded in such a manner that a discrepancy like that made sense. I don’t know. Maybe I’m full of prunes there. But man, that just felt like some notably bad work from this particular crew. And for this guy — a guy who hates to be this guy — it’s worth mentioning.
See y’all in Lincoln this weekend. We think.