MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin defeated Indiana 71-61 on Tuesday night at the Kohl Center for its fifth consecutive victory. Given how many difficult games are ahead on Wisconsin’s Big Ten schedule, this was one the Badgers desperately needed, and they came through with a stellar second-half performance.
WHY WISCONSIN WON: It certainly didn’t help matters that Wisconsin played without starting shooting guard Brevin Pritzl, who missed the game with a head injury. That meant the Badgers took the floor without three of their top four guards in the rotation. Wisconsin also doesn’t have Kobe King, who is out for the season (left knee), and D’Mitrik Trice, who is recovering from right foot surgery. Wisconsin’s guard rotation was exceptionally thin, and that forced the team’s frontcourt players to shuffle into other positions.
But Wisconsin demonstrated great resolve to rally for a huge victory. Ethan Happ produced a typically strong all-around game, and he received just enough help from his teammates. Wisconsin earned defensive stops in the second half to pull away. This victory wasn’t pretty, but it showed the team’s character while battling adversity.
WHAT IT MEANS: Every game in Big Ten play will be a fight for Wisconsin’s undermanned, inexperienced roster. That’s why it was critical for the Badgers to figure out how to win at home against an average Indiana team on Tuesday night. It will still take a marvelous finish for Wisconsin to continue its NCAA Tournament streak. But a victory against the Hoosiers was a step in the right direction. If nothing else, Wisconsin continues to improve as the season progresses, which bodes well for the future.
WHO STARRED: Happ showed again why he is one of the best players in the country. Happ scored 15 of Wisconsin’s 30 points in the first half. He finished with a season-high 28 points and 9 rebounds. Brad Davison, who was held scoreless in the first half, finished with 14 points. Aleem Ford buried 3 3-pointers and tallied with 9 points. Khalil Iverson added 10 points, including this dunk.
As for the left side, apparently there's a football game still to be played? 😉 pic.twitter.com/rJBnjJlgbE
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) January 3, 2018
WHO STUMBLED: Forward Aaron Moesch and guard T.J. Schlundt, two former walk-ons, were forced into major minutes given the team’s depth issues and helped the Badgers in a pinch. Moesch scored 2 points in 25 minutes, and Schlundt finished with 3 points in 20 minutes. Nate Reuvers earned his first career start and tallied 3 points in 14 minutes while battling foul trouble.
WHO WAS THERE: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers watched the game alongside two-time U.S. Open golf champion and Madison native Andy North.
— Stephen Watson (@WISN_Watson) January 3, 2018
WHO IS NEXT: Wisconsin plays at Rutgers at 6 p.m. CT Friday.
— Jesse Temple (@jessetemple) January 3, 2018