BLOOMINGTON, Indiana (AP) — Trayce Jackson-Davis knew what Indiana had been missing for the past few weeks.
So on Saturday he made sure the Hoosiers defense was reconnected.
The all-conference striker had 18 points, 12 rebounds and helped the Indiana defense focus on fundamentals as they broke a three-game losing streak with a 63-45 win over No. 18 Wisconsin.
“I don’t really think we’re helping too much, I just think we weren’t in the right places to begin with and that makes it more difficult,” Jackson-Davis said. “When we’re in our right spots and getting our defense right, it’s a lot different and you saw that today.”
How good was Indiana (12-4, 2-4 Big Ten)?
One of the best 3-point shooting teams at the Wisconsin conference made just five, barely half its season average. Indiana also kept the Badgers (11-5, 3-3) at their second-lowest total points that season and their second-lowest points total in the series since a 51-44 loss on February 13, 1943.
It was a far cry from the 86.7 points Indiana had allowed in their last three games, and they were able to win for the first time since Dec. 23 despite playing without two injured starters — guard Xavier Johnson (foot) and forward Race Thompson (knee). .
The reason was obvious.
“Our defense was solid from start to finish,” said coach Mike Woodson.
Connor Essegian had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Badgers, who have now lost all three games since starting forward Tyler Wahl went down with a leg injury. This came in a streak they have dominated for more than a decade, which has included eight wins in their previous 11 trips to Assembly Hall.
After an ugly start the Hoosiers turned that game with a quick 18-2 curse in the second half and the defense shut out the stunning Badgers.
Jackson-Davis helped the Hoosiers around the corner.
He opened the second half with a short hook shot and scored a goal Jalen Hood-Schifino followed with consecutive baskets before Trey Galloway’s layup turned a 21-20 lead into a 29-20 lead at half-time. Indiana continued the run, completing the 18-2 charge with a 39-22 lead.
Wisconsin responded with six in a row to reduce the deficit to 10 but couldn’t get any closer.
“We didn’t really care about our offense (at halftime) because we knew it was coming,” said Steven Crowl, who had five points and six rebounds. “In the second half we got away from it, they gained some momentum and we couldn’t stop the train after that.”
Wisconsin: This wasn’t the same team with no choice, but the Badgers still know how to win — defending without fouling, caring for the ball and playing ugly when needed. The plan kept Wisconsin close, though without choice it wasn’t good enough against a motivated opponent.
Indiana: Obviously, the Hoosiers have spent the past few days working on defense and it’s paid off. Eventually, the offense got going and they finally looked like the kind of team that could make it to be the conference preseason pick to win the title.
Wisconsin: The Badgers were 5 of 24 on 3s, were outrebounded 42-32, and outed 42-22 in the paint. … Max Klesmit had nine points and Chucky Hepburn had eight.
Indiana: Hood-Schifino had 16 points while Jordan Geronimo had 12 points and 11 rebounds. … The Hoosiers were 1 of 8 on 3s and narrowly avoided their first shutout since March 2001 against Wisconsin.
While it took Wisconsin six weeks to break the top 25, Wisconsin’s five-week run in the rankings will likely end with another loss.
Meanwhile, Indiana is trying to get back into the top 25 after slipping this week. A home win over the Badgers helps their cause, but the 19-point loss at Penn State doesn’t.
Wisconsin: Returns home Tuesday to face Penn State.
Indiana: Gets a four-day break before traveling to Illinois on Thursday.
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