MADISON, Wis. — The reality of Big Ten play smacked Greg Gard’s Wisconsin’s players in the jaw Wednesday night at the Kohl Center.
For 20 minutes.
As they had during nonconference play, the Badgers kept battling, made plays on both ends of the court and eventually prevailed.
An improved Indiana team led by first-year coach Mike Woodson built a double-digit lead before the second media timeout, led by 22 in the first half and 17 at halftime but saw UW roar back for a 64-59 victory.
The 17th-ranked Badgers (8-1, 1-0 Big Ten) extended their winning streak to six games and beat Indiana (7-2, 1-1) for the 19th time in 20 games at the Kohl Center.
Indiana’s lone victory at the Kohl Center came on Jan. 25, 1998, the debut season for the facility.
The Badgers were without three players because of non-COVID illness, guards Lorne Bowman (4.3 ppg, 53.3% three-point shooting), Jahcobi Neath (2.3 ppg) and forward Markus Ilver (1.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg).
BOX SCORE: Wisconsin 64, Indiana 59
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Johnny Davis, who had scored at least 15 points in each of his first seven games and entered the game at 20.1 points per game, buried a three-pointer to give UW the lead for good, 60-59, with 1 minute 18 seconds left He finished with 23 points and nine rebounds.
Senior guard Brad Davison, 9 of 17 from three-point range and 15 of 27 overall in the previous two games, was hounded all night. He finished the first half 1 of 6, including 0 of 3 from three-point range. He made several big plays after halftime and finished with eight points and four rebounds.
Reserve center Chris Vogt gave UW a huge lift with nine points and six rebounds.
Tyler Wahl grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds, added seven points and two assists and had a huge block late with UW leading by one.
Freshman guard chucky Hepburn (7.4 ppg, 2.3 apg) missed all four shots he took but hit four critical free throws in the final half-minute after Davis’ go-ahead three-pointer.
Indiana’s starters all had at least six points in the opening half and combined to hit 4 of 5 three-pointers and 16 of 22 shots overall.
Race Thompson led the Hoosiers with 12 points. His basket with 3:12 left gave the Hoosiers a 59-53 lead.
The Hoosiers carved up UW’s defense in the first seven-plus minutes of the game by getting the ball inside and hitting 8 of 15 shots overall in building a 19-9 lead.
Miller Kopp had five points, Trayce Jackson-Davis added four and Race Thompson added four. UW was just 4-for-11 shooting and appeared out of sync offensively.
UW’s troubles were just beginning.
Davison hit a jumper to pull UW within 14-9 with 13:41 left in the half.
The Badgers didn’t score again until Wahl scored in the lane with 8:30 left in the half.
By that point the deficit was 26-11.
Indiana finished the half 5 of 8 from three-point range (62.5%), 17 of 31 overall (54.8%) and with a commanding 42-25 lead.
UW, meanwhile, couldn’t hit from the perimeter or near the basket.
The Badgers hit just 1 of 10 three-point attempts – on a jumper by Steven Crowl just 2:22 in to the game – and made just 10 of 32 shots overall (31.3%).
The Badgers tightened their defense and got better looks early in second half and pulled within 49-41 when Ben Carlson hit 1 of 2 free-throw attempts 12:37 left.
Reserve center Michael Durr hit a baseline jumper to push the lead to 51-41 and Davis then was stripped by Thompson.
UW pulled within 51-44 on a three-pointer by Davison but Davison missed another three-pointer with the Hoosiers leading, 52-44, and they pushed the lead back to 56-44.
UW pulled within 56-48 on a basket by Chris Vogt but Davis missed a tough turnaround jumper with a chance to cut the lead to six.
Vogt hit back-to-back baskets to help UW pull within 57-52.
The deficit was 57-53 after Davis made 1 of 2 free throws but Thompson snared an offensive rebound and scored with 3:12 left.
UW kept charging and Davis gave his team a 60-59 lead with a right-corner three-pointer with 1:17 left.
Wahl came up with a block on Parker Stewart wit 31 seconds left and Indiana fooled Hepburn with 23.9 seconds left.
Hepburn buried both free throws for his first points of the night.
UW was ahead by three and Indiana took a timeout.
Xavier Johnson was fouled with 18 seconds left but he missed the first of bonus free throws.
Hepburn was fouled in transition with 13.0 seconds left and made both free throws.
The comeback was complete.
You want a tough team? Meet these Badgers.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin basketball beats Indiana after overcoming massive deficit