No word better describes the Indiana Hoosiers’ 81-78 overtime loss to the Wisconsin Badgers than “complicated.”
How complicated? It was a game that the Hoosiers (17-4, 7-1) should have won but at the same time deserved to lose. It was a back-and-forth affair where every time it looked like the Hoosiers made one too many mistakes, the Badgers (12-9, 4-4)gave Indiana another chance. So should Hoosier fans feel positively or negatively about the Hoosiers overtime loss at the Kohl Center? Well the answer is actually both. Here are three positive takeaways and three negative takeaways from the Hoosiers’ first Big Ten loss:
- For more than a decade, the Wisconsin Badgers have been the Indiana Hoosiers’ kryptonite. No matter how good the Hoosiers were during a specific season, they’ve always had trouble with the Badgers, especially in the Kohl Center where IU has now lost 14 straight. For Indiana to consistently erase every Badger lead and have a chance at the end of regulation to win shows that the Hoosiers are close to breaking this streak. It could come as early as next season.
- The fact Indiana was so close to winning is even more incredible when you look at the boxscore. The Hoosiers committed 19 turnovers, fouled the Badgers 31 times, and missed more than a handful of shots near the rim. It wasn’t until that 19th turnover with three seconds left in overtime that one of the mistakes finally sealed Indiana’s defeat. There’s a certain mental toughness needed to hold up for that long and it seems the Hoosiers have that.
- Even though Indiana lost, Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell’s performance has to be one of the best so far during this Big Ten season. It will definitely be brought up when it comes to awards season. The numbers say a lot (30 points, 5 of 6 from three-point range, 7 rebounds, 2 steals), but they still don’t due him justice. On a night where Ferrell moved pass three all-time great Hoosiers on the career scoring list (Christian Watford, Kent Benson, and Damon Bailey), Ferrell played like an all-time great as he not only hit big shot after big shot, but he also completely shut down opposing guard Bronson Koenig, who was averaging 14 points per game on the season, holding him to 4 points on 1 of 9 shooting.
- As great as it was to see the Hoosiers overcome their mistakes, that doesn’t change the fact that Indiana committed way too many mistakes. Some of the turnovers were because of great Wisconsin defense but the majority of them could have been avoided, including quite a few unforced turnovers. Ferrell is likely to have more turnovers than his teammates because he is the team’s main ball-handler, but four turnovers is still a bit high. Then there was the five by Thomas Bryant and the three by Troy Williams. A lot of things have changed over the course of the season, but the one problem that is still the same is the tendency to commit a lot of turnovers and I don’t know if there is a real solution.
- The Hoosiers have done a magnificent job improving their defensive play over the last two months. There were some questions about whether or not the defensive improvement would hold when games got more competitive. For the most part the defense did fine, but there were definitely a few old habits that reappeared. Early in the first half, quite a few Badgers were able to find easy driving lanes and get good shots around the basket. You might not have noticed because during those early drives a Hoosier defender was able to recover quick enough to contest it. However later in the game, when fatigue started creeping, the Badgers found passing and driving lanes to the basket, but this time the common result was a Hoosier foul. It’s still an improvement over the matador defense from a few months ago but the Hoosiers still need to continue getting better.
- It’s weird to look at a team who just scored 78 points against Wisconsin and say that the team had trouble scoring, but IU’s beautiful ball movement offense was reduced to Ferrell running isolation plays with a little bit of Bryant added into the mix. Williams was reckless with his shot attempts, only making 4 of 14, and the bench couldn’t find one offensive contributor as they scored a total of 8 points. The Hoosiers need to get more scoring out of their bench, because when they don’t is when Indiana really feels the loss of James Blackmon Jr. the most.