Indiana had a great chance to pick up its first win at Wisconsin since before Bo Ryan took over the program.
But in the end, the Hoosiers just couldn’t quite finish the deal against Ryan’s disciple and extended their winning streak to start Big Ten play.
The Badgers defeated handed the Hoosiers their first loss in Big Ten play in an 82-79 in overtime decision. It was a back-and-forth battle that featured terrific performances from Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes and Indiana’sYogi Ferrell.
Ferrell scored 30 on 12-of-20 shooting from the field, and was largely a dominating force on the offensive end for a Hoosiers team that largely struggled to establish anything away from him. He did only dish out one assist, but that was largely due to the fact that the Badgers were happy to let their guards play Ferrell one-on-one instead of helping off and setting up the Hoosiers’ shooters for open 3s. The 6-foot point guard made them pay by himself, but ultimately it wasn’t quite enough.
The main reason the Badgers won was Hayes. Ethan Happ was terrific as well in scoring a career-high 25 points, but that just shows how impressive Hayes was throughout that his emergence isn’t the main story. It was a near-flawless performance from the 6-8 forward on both ends of the floor. He scored 31 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and 17-of-22 from the line as the Hoosiers simply had no one who could stay in front of him. And believe me, they tried just about everyone from OG Anunoby to Juwan Morgan to Collin Hartman to Troy Williams. Hayes was also terrific on the defensive end, switching screens constantly and playing stellar one-on-one defense when faced off against slashers.
We got a chance to see an example of that on the final play of regulation, where he found himself matched up in a switch against Ferrell. With the game tied, Ferrell had a chance to win the game for his team. The two stars met near the rim, and it was Hayes who got the better by moving his feet and using his length to not only contest the pump fake but also contest the actual shot without fouling.
Excellent defense by Hayes on the last second attempt. #Badgers pic.twitter.com/Zqem5iDFVw
— Sconnie Sports Talk (@SST_WI) January 27, 2016
It’s games like this that make Hayes a potential first round pick despite the fact that his overall numbers are down this season in efficiency. He can just do so much for you on the defensive end, and his ability to handle the ball and make smart decisions makes him a matchup nightmare.
Overall, this was a pretty terrific win for Wisconsin. The Badgers still have a lot of work to do to get back to the NCAA Tournament under Greg Gard, but this win should go a long way toward getting them there.
The bigger question here is obviously Indiana. It’s always tough to go into the Kohl Center and win, but this was a pretty big opportunity for the Hoosiers to establish themselves as a contender in the Big Ten. Instead, they now head back to Bloomington for a matchup against Minnesota having had their 12-game win streak broken and no longer undefeated in the league.
That’s not the worst thing in the world by any means. But the jury is still out on the Hoosiers, and will be until their schedule picks up starting next week with a game at Michigan.