“If it took 20 minutes to show our guys that he’s that good, so be it, but we really didn’t change anything with our positioning, we just did it better.”
Indiana went into halftime ahead 32-31 thanks to a Christian Watford 3-pointer — one of just three makes from beyond the arc for the Hoosiers.
Victor Oladipo extended IU’s lead to 35-31 after a layup and free throw, but Wisconsin answered with a 7-0 run. A Watford layup and two Yogi Ferrell free throws gave IU the lead again, 39-38, but Traevon Jackson converted a 3-point play to start a 9-0 Badgers’ run and put Wisconsin ahead to stay.
The Hoosiers pulled within one twice in the final minutes, the last on two Watford free throws with 3:39 to play to cut the score to 54-53. But another 9-0 Wisconsin run iced the victory.
Wisconsin didn’t have a stellar shooting night — 23-of-51 (45.1 percent) from the field — but its shots were falling when Indiana’s weren’t.
“In the second half they made some shots at the shot clock that reminded me of the McDonald’s Michael Jordan/Larry Bird H-O-R-S-E commercials,” Crean said. “I’d like to see them take those again.
“When you get momentum going, it’s amazing what can happen. They played really hard and got the momentum.”
Zeller finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season and ninth of his career. Watford added 11 points and Oladipo scored 10, as the Hoosiers again got little production from their bench. After the reserves scored three points, all on free throws, in Saturday’s win over Minnesota, the bench had just two points Tuesday night, on a layup by Jeremy Hollowell.
“I’m not as concerned about the lack of offense from the bench. I’m concerned about the lack of creating pace of the game, with deflections, defense. We need guys to come in and make plays,” Crean added.
Ryan Evans led Wisconsin with 13 points. Jackson scored 11 and Mike Bruesewitz and Sam Dekker each had 10 points.