Ferrell helps Hoosiers get past struggling Wisconsin 59-58
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana spent the first part of the season trying to play defense.
On Tuesday night, the Hoosiers succeeded.
With the shooters struggling, they shut down the defending Big Ten champs in the second half and got their own offense warmed up just long enough to hold on 59-58 over Wisconsin.
“We don’t want to go into a game where it’s only offense carrying us,” freshman center Thomas Bryant said. “We want offense and defense, too.”
The Hoosiers needed both on a rugged night that looked, at times, like they could have been using peach baskets.
Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell scored 19 points, broke a 53-53 tie with a 13-foot jumper with 38 seconds left, then sealed the win with four free throws in the final 13 seconds. O.G. Anunoby added 11 points.
Indiana (13-3) won its eighth straight and has won its first three league games for the first time since claiming its last Big Ten crown in 2012-13.
It wasn’t easy and it sure wasn’t pretty but it was pure beauty to coach Tom Crean.
“In the past, immaturity could have kicked in in a hurry and you get disappointed and discouraged when you’re not making baskets and all of a sudden, the runs turn into routs,” Crean said. “We never let that happen.”
Instead, they went toe-to-toe with the struggling Badgers (9-7, 1-2) and won ugly.
The two teams opened the second half going a combined 6 of 22 from the field and scored 16 total points in the first 10 minutes. The score was tied at 34 for under four minutes. But Ferrell and Anunoby broke the tie with back-to-back 3-pointers and the Hoosiers never trailed again.
Despite going 9 of 25 from the field in the second half, Wisconsin still managed to tie the score at 53 when Nigel Hayes made two free throws with 52.4 seconds left.
But Ferrell broke the tie with the midrange jumper and closed it out with the free throws.
Hayes and Bronson Koenig each scored 15 for the Badgers.
“The loss here tonight stings, and it will,” interim coach Greg Gard said. “But to be able to bring a younger team on the road in this environment and have a chance to win in the final 50 seconds is a step in the right direction.”
Badgers: Wisconsin had won four or the previous five in Bloomington. ... The Badgers outscored Indiana 24-13 on turnovers and 26-22 in the paint but were just 4 of 16 on 3s and had only six assists with 14 turnovers.
Hoosiers: Ferrell had two assists against the Badgers, giving him 531. Only Quinn Buckner (542) and Michael Lewis (545) are ahead of him on Indiana’s career list. ... Indiana was a perfect 10 for 10 on free throws, outscored Wisconsin’s bench 21-8 and won despite scoring a season-low in points.
Indiana honored the 1975-76 national championship team — the last Division I men’s team to complete a perfect season. Most of the players, including Scott May and Kent Benson, returned for the 40th anniversary celebration. Former coach Bob Knight did not. During the ceremony a new banner was unfurled and the school announced a statue of the five starters would be placed outside of Assembly Hall.
OUT OF ACTION
The Hoosiers lost guard James Blackmon Jr., their second-leading scorer, for the rest of the season Tuesday after he had surgery on his right knee. Crean would not say what the specific injury was, citing federal privacy laws. The sophomore was averaging 15.8 points. “We miss him, we truly miss him,” Crean said. “At the same time, you’ve got to keep preaching that there’s unbelievable opportunity for other people.”
While Hayes and Koenig wound up as Wisconsin’s top scorers, they sure worked for it. They were 7 of 25 from the field and 3 of 11 on 3s and more than half of Hayes’ points (eight) came on free throws.
Wisconsin hosts No. 8 Maryland on Saturday.
Indiana hosts Ohio State on Sunday.