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February 25, 2014

Quick Thoughts: Wisconsin

What just happened
The third installment of Indiana basketball's season-long narrative played out Tuesday evening at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisc.

After building a 29-19 lead by halftime against Wisconsin, IU experienced yet another second half collapse of epic proportions en route to a 69-58 loss that drops the Hoosiers to 15-12 overall and 5-9 in the Big Ten Conference.

Yogi Ferrell (24 points) and Noah Vonleh (18 points) were the only Hoosiers to score in double figures on the evening.

What it means
IU's 61-56 victory at Northwestern last Saturday provided hope that the Hoosiers may have overcome whatever mental obstacles they faced in letdown losses against Penn State and Minnesota in recent weeks.

However, it proved to be a flash in the pan for IU, as the same issues that plagued it against the Nittany Lions and Golden Gophers reared their collectively ugly head once again against the Badgers.

Worst of all, the loss to Wisconsin prevented IU from earning its first road win against the Badgers since 1998, as well as earning a rare season sweep against head coach Bo Ryan's squad. Since taking over at Wisconsin in 2001, Ryan owns a 19-4 record against IU.

How it happened
It was a tale of two polar opposite halves for IU.

After streaking out to a surprising 29-19 lead at halftime, the Hoosiers were outscored 50-29 in the game's final 20 minutes. That massive swing was completely dictated by the offensive fortunes of both teams.

The Hoosiers were aided in the first half by averaging 1.07 points per possession, while Wisconsin was limited to .70. This was due in large part to IU consistently getting ball reversals en route to quality looks. However, the story reversed in the second half, with the Hoosiers becoming impatient offensively and the Badgers finding their groove.

In fact, Ryan's squad was a reborn team offensively in the second half, increasing its offensive output to 1.22 points per possession. IU didn't necessarily trail off, either, as the Hoosiers poured dropped just .04 to 1.03 points per possession.

Working in Wisconsin's favor during the offensive renaissance was improved three-point shooting and an ability to consistently attack the basket on the baselines, with the Badgers specifically targeting IU's Troy Williams on those drives.

Key player
Vonleh was, arguably, IU's key player against Wisconsin.

The 6-foot-10, 240-pound freshman chipped in 18 points and 6 rebounds while displaying his versatility through connecting on two of his three three-point shot attempts.

Key stat
Five assists.

IU only had five assists on 24 made baskets. Considering the Hoosiers had double the amount of turnovers than they had assists, the story practically writes itself.

Up next
IU returns to Assembly Hall for a showdown with No. 20 Iowa on Thursday evening at 9 p.m. on ESPN. The game is a makeup for last week's postponed game originally scheduled for Feb. 18.

As always, please feel free to email me (Ckillore@Indiana.edu) or tweet me (@Connor_Killoren) with any questions, thoughts or comments.

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