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Indiana men’s basketball falters late, falls to Wisconsin 74-69

Indiana’s losing streak extends to four games.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

There were just over seven minutes remaining in the first half, and Brad Davison was charging down the court with multiple Hoosiers in hot pursuit.

He saw an opening here, one too good to pass up. Any score here would give the Badgers the lead. Rather than wait for Wisconsin’s offense to join him, he shot a 3-pointer at the crest of the arc.

It sailed just under the rim without a sound, then the stands surrounding him erupted. At first it was just a din of scattered, elated voices, but it soon morphed into a one-word symphony. The chant began to rain down onto the court from the stands of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

AIR-BALL, AIR-BALL

The chant went on, and the fans kept it going when play resumed after the ensuing media timeout even though Davison was on the bench. The chant restarted whenever Davison got the ball again for the remainder of the first half.

He’d made a 3-pointer just a minute earlier, much to the chagrin of Indiana’s student section. Meanwhile, Indiana women’s basketball legend Tyra Buss, the school’s all-time leader in scoring, was sitting courtside wearing a Wisconsin sweatshirt.

She turned to Indiana’s student section once Davison made that 3-pointer, holding up three fingers in delight. On one of those fingers was an engagement ring, given to her by Davison.

Those chants weren’t enough to keep Davison, loathed by Indiana fans, from scoring 21 points and drawing fouls in Indiana men’s basketball’s 74-69 loss.

Read More: [Three Things: Indiana Loses to Wisconsin 74-69]

The game was even throughout the first half. The two teams traded blows, neither able to pull away in scoring or on the stat sheet. Each team had 15 rebounds and Wisconsin took a slim 32-21 lead into halftime.

“I got to give them credit because they played they butts off,” head coach Mike Woodson said in a postgame press conference. “I thought we played great in stretches, but we just couldn’t sustain it. Too many fouls.”

Trayce Jackson-Davis led the Hoosiers in first half scoring with 13 points, while fellow forward Race Thompson was second with 6. The two combined for nine of Indiana’s 15 first half rebounds.

But the Hoosiers outshot the Badgers in the first half, with 35 attempts to 26. This was partially due to fouls, 11 of Wisconsin’s 32 points had come on 14 free throws. Indiana shot just five free throws, making three.

The two kept trading blows into the second half, neither could stretch two consecutive scoring possessions for the first five minutes. Then Indiana was able to break away, going on a 10-0 run for the next three minutes.

Read More: [Juwan Morgan named to USA Basketball’s FIBA Men’s World Cup qualifying team]

The game had been physical up to this point, and came to a head with 12 minutes to go. Davison made contact with Parker Stewart with a shove, and Stewart came up holding his lip afterward. The two began to exchange words before officials and teammates stepped in.

Woodson himself strode across the court to speak with Stewart afterward as the officials reviewed the play. It ended with a flagrant foul on Davison, and Stewart hit both of the resulting free throws to give Indiana a 52-45 lead.

Indiana entered the final two minutes of the game with a 1-point lead to protect. The Hoosiers allowed 8 points to Johnny Davis over the course of those two minutes, 6 of which came from free throws.

A last second 3-point attempt from Stewart ricocheted off the rim with six seconds remaining as fans began to head for the exits.

“We’re still a work in progress trying to figure it out down the stretch,” Woodson said. “We’ve played some good basketball this season. We just haven’t been consistent in bringing them home.”

Indiana has yet to win in February, going 0-4. The Hoosiers will have a chance to bounce back when they face Ohio State next Monday in Columbus, Ohio.