Wisconsin suffered a stunning loss at home in its last game, hurting its chances at a Big Ten title. Getting back on track doesn’t figure to be too difficult given their success in Madison against their next opponent.
The No. 11 Badgers look to win their ninth straight at home over Indiana on Saturday when they host the struggling Hoosiers.
Wisconsin (18-6, 8-4) is one-half game behind Purdue for fourth place in the Big Ten, but is only one game behind the three teams tied atop the conference standings - Michigan State, Ohio State and Illinois.
The Badgers could have claimed a share of the top spot with Michigan State and Ohio State, but lost 63-56 to the Illini on Tuesday night, snapping a 51-game home winning streak against unranked Big Ten opponents.
Wisconsin shot 25.8 percent in the second half and went five minutes without scoring, missing nine consecutive shots before Rob Wilson hit a 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining.
Jason Bohannon scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, and Trevon Hughes finished with 12.
“We drove to the basket several times. I thought we were going to get to the free throw line with some penetration and contact,” coach Bo Ryan said. “I think our guys got a little gun-shy when we didn’t get to the free throw line. I think that did affect us and you just have to be tougher and play through that.”
The Illini were the second team to shoot better than 50 percent at the Kohl Center this season. For the season, the Badgers are holding opponents to 53.5 points and 39.5 percent from the field.
“We are not going to let one loss get to us,” junior forward Keaton Nankivil said. “There is a lot of season left. There are a lot of things that can happen. As much of a cluster the Big Ten is, there is no reason to dwell on one loss. We just have to go out and play and do everything we can to get back in a good position.”
Wisconsin’s schedule is favorable through the end of the month. After visiting Minnesota next Thursday, it hosts Northwestern on Feb. 21 and plays at Indiana four days later. Only one of its final six opponents - Illinois - has a winning conference record.
Indiana’s only win at the Kohl Center came in its first visit there in 1998. Since then, it’s lost eight in a row, including the last three by an average of 18.3 points. Wisconsin has won four straight overall meetings.
The Hoosiers (9-14, 3-8) come in having lost five straight, two against ranked opponents. They are coming off a 69-52 loss at home to No. 13 Ohio State on Wednesday in which they shot 37.0 percent and trailed by 14 at the half.
The Hoosiers are averaging 60.2 points while shooting 37.8 percent in their last five games.
“The most important thing right now for us is to try and get our mentality back,” coach Tom Crean said. “We don’t have enough successes in this year to even look back on or even last year to look back on and understand that they are going to be OK. We have got to continue to work with this team mentally.”
Verdell Jones III, who had at least 22 points in the previous three games, scored 11 on 4-of-11 shooting. Jones has averaged 19.5 points in two games against Wisconsin.