MADISON - Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan switched up his starting lineup for the first time this season.
Inserting Jon Leuer back into the lineup after a nine game hiatus while keeping Jordan Taylor in his starting role, Ryan essentially went back to what was working prior to the injury while sticking with what got them through the stretch without its second leading scorer.
The end result? An easy 78-46 rout of lowly Indiana inside Assembly Hall.
Before shifting attention towards Iowa and senior night next Wednesday, BadgerBlitz.com takes a look back at the game that was with the good, bad and ugly from Thursday night.
With Keaton Nankivil and Leuer on the floor at the same time for virtually the first time since Leuer was injured, Wisconsin's offense was clicking on a level unseen for the past 10 games.
Considering UW only launched 11 shots from downtown, it was obvious the Badgers were not focused on scoring the bulk of their points from the perimeter. Instead, UW forced the ball inside and dropped 24 points in the paint against a Hoosier squad looking for an identity.
By the end, five Badgers finished with double-digit scoring led by Trevon Hughes 17 points. Nankivil finished with 14 points, Jordan Taylor and Leuer chipped in 13 and Jason Bohannon, the teams leading scorer over the past six games, had 11 on 3-of-4 shooting.
Overall, Wisconsin shot just less than 55 percent from the floor and nearly 73 percent from beyond the arc. The Badgers also hit 80 percent of their free throw attempts, though in a game with such a wide margin, not many were pressure packed.
Big's block party:
Against Northwestern, Leuer had a block that helped his team seal a win over the late charging Wildcats. On Thursday, Leuer logged four more blocks in his first start since injuring his wrist.
But it wasn't just Leuer getting in on the block party. Nankivil, a player that has really started to develop over the past month of games, also swatted four Hoosier shots. With both players on the floor at the same time UW has a true inside presence.
Whether that means the players will score inside the perimeter or that they'll block shots, their presence down low on both sides of the ball can do nothing but help the Badgers as they prepare for postseason action.
Their sheer size alone forces opposing players to, at the very least, alter shots if they decide to take the rock inside. Sometimes, Leuer or Nankivil will get a hand on the ball and deflect the shot. That's a bonus because just the size the two possess on the floor at the same time, along with each of their athletic prowess, changes the way UW plays in a good way.
Over the past couple of weeks, really starting with the loss to Illinois at home, Hughes seemed to be pressing and forcing the issue a little more than he had to that point. Last night though, and with a potential glimpse into what lies ahead, Hughes seemed more patient and let the game come to him.
He finished with a game high 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting and only had one turnover in 28 minutes of play. He collected two rebounds, dished an assist and recorded a steal during his time on the floor.
Most importantly, Hughes was patient. He took what the defense was giving him, didn't play out of control and took good shots. Quite simply, Hughes, as one of the leaders, can do more for this team through his play than any other player on the squad. When he's on, it seems the team is playing at its highest level.
Thursday night, albeit against a weak Indiana team, proved just that.
For a team that leads the Big Ten and nation by averaging just nine turnovers per game, Wisconsin coughed the ball up an uncharacteristic amount of times against the Hoosiers. But even though UW had 14 turnovers, it's highest total in nine games (at Ohio State), none came back to haunt the Badgers.
A lot of times when you play a team that is clearly inferior, the favored team plays down to their skill level. A certain level of complacency kicks in maybe the team isn't quite as secure with the ball as it usually is. Maybe that is what happened Thursday night against the Hoosiers.
But then again, when UW forces IU into 18 turnovers of its own, chances are the 14 turnovers the Badgers had won't be as noticed.
Wilson's air ball:
For the third time in the past four games, Rob Wilson air balled an open look. This time it happened when Wilson had the ball swung to him with the shot clock winding down in the corner. He took his time and looked to have a nice release, but the ball just kept sailing over the rim.
Again, with a 32-point win in hand, it's doubtful the Badger sophomore lost any sleep over the matter. However, when something happens three times in a rather short period of time, maybe it's a trend. Or maybe BadgerBlitz.com jinxed him when it mentioned his first air ball in a similar article following UW's first blowout win over Indiana.
Can you really blame Tom Crean for getting so upset that he gets whistled with back-to-back technical fouls in a 29-second span? His team has lost 10 straight games by an average of higher than 20 points.
They lost their best player in Maurice Creek earlier this season and have had nobody step up to fill the void. With a team as young as Indiana is, there are no natural leaders present on the court and the team looks lost at certain times.
I have no doubt Crean will get the IU program turned around within the next few years, but this year, it's been nothing short of ugly. And I think on Thursday night Crean simply reached his boiling point.
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