MADISON, Wis. — After a dismal first half of shooting Tuesday night, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan’s halftime message was simple.
“It had nothing to do with threats or violence,” the Badgers coach said. “I just mentioned that if we make some shots, good things would happen. We know what we can do. We just had to go do it.”
Ryan’s message got through loud and clear as No. 14 Wisconsin shot 61 percent over the final 20 minutes to overcome a 10-point deficit and roll to a 69-58 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers at the Kohl Center.
“He told us to just relax and that we’d figure this out,” said forward Sam Dekker. “It’s 40 minutes of basketball, not 20, and we felt like we had our best 20 ahead of us.”
The Badgers were especially lethal from long range, connecting on 6 of 11 3-point attempts after the break after going 1-for-10 in the first half.
Guard Ben Brust was the spark to Wisconsin’s offensive outburst, connecting from beyond the arc on back-to-back possessions during a 9-2 run early in the half and sinking a third with 13:04 left to break a 38-38 tie.
From there, the Badgers cruised, outscoring Indiana 17-8 over the next 11 minutes and making 11 of 12 free throws over the final two minutes.
“A lot of our runs this year have started with a Ben Brust 3-pointer,” said Dekker, who led Wisconsin with 16 points. “We still see Ben as the best shooter on this team so seeing him hit three in the second half, I was happy for him.”
Brust finished with 12 points, all of them coming in the second half.
“I knew it was only a matter of time,” Brust said. “I knew I was going to start (hitting shots). It was good to get a couple to go down.”
Guard Traevon Jackson scored 14 for the Badgers, who shot 42 percent for the game and also got 11 from forward Josh Gasser and 10 from forward Frank Kaminsky.
Kaminsky also pulled down nine rebounds and blocked a pair of shots.
“They found a way,” Ryan said. “They got some good looks — much better looks — in the second half, had good ball and body movement and made good decisions.
“I thought we did a great job.”
After snapping a 12-game losing streak to the Badgers with a 75-72 victory earlier in the season — which snapped Wisconsin’s 16-0 start — the Hoosiers missed an opportunity to post their first consecutive victories against Wisconsin since 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons.
Indiana won the battle inside in the teams’ first meeting, outscoring Wisconsin 52-44 in the paint and out-rebounding the Badgers 33-28
The Hoosiers also held Wisconsin to just four free-throw attempts in that game but the tables turned Tuesday as the Badgers made seven of 10 attempts while Indiana made just three trips to the line.
“We can’t win if we don’t shoot free throws,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said.
Forward Will Sheehey got the Hoosiers off to a good start, scoring their first seven points as Indiana went up 7-2.
Wisconsin took a 15-14 lead on Jackson’s 3-pointer with 8:20 left in the half but the Badgers would not get another field goal until Kaminsky’s tip-in with 48 seconds left.
During the Wisconsin drought, the Hoosiers rode a 15-4 run and took a 29-19 lead into halftime after guard Yogi Ferrell sank a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left.
Ferrell and forward Noah Vonleh each scored 10 for the Hoosiers, who held Wisconsin to 26 percent shooting in the half.
Indiana was 12-for-28 from the field in the second and shot 42 percent for the game but could not find a way to shut down Brust and Wisconsin in the second half.
“The bottom line is they got some good looks … and they got hot,” Crean said. “The basket started looking pretty big for them.
“We got some looks, but we didn’t get many second-shots. We got offensive boards but we weren’t getting the put-backs that we need.”
Ferrell led Indiana with 24 while Vonleh finished with 18.
NOTES: Wisconsin clinched its 14th consecutive winning season in
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