MADISON, Wis. (AP)—Indiana coach Mike Davis believes No. 21 Wisconsin has what it takes to win a third straight Big Ten title.
“This is the best I’ve seen them play,” Davis said after the Badgers’ 79-45 victory over the Hoosiers on Tuesday night. “If they play like this, they can run the table.”
Mike Wilkinson had 20 points and 10 rebounds as Wisconsin (10-2, 1-0) won its 21st straight on its court and is now 17-0 in Big Ten home games under third-year coach Bo Ryan.
Devin Harris had 15 points and nine assists, and Zach Morley and Andreas Helmigk added 11 points apiece during Wisconsin’s most lopsided defeat over Indiana (6-6, 0-1) in almost 90 years. The Badgers beat the Hoosiers 57-15 on Jan. 12, 1914.
“Tonight was our night,” Ryan said.
It certainly wasn’t Indiana’s night. The Hoosiers, who shot just 29 percent from the field, have lost three games by 33 or more points this season.
Indiana’s leading scorer, Bracey Wright, was held to just seven points more than 15 below his season average—on 2-of-15 shooting.
“We’re going to be all right,” said Sean Kline, who led Indiana with 12 points. “We’re going to come together as a team, and Bracey’s going to step up as a leader and lead us to the championship.”
Wisconsin shot 49 percent and had 21 assists and just five turnovers.
The Badgers also tied a season-high with 10 3-pointers, including four by Wilkinson and three by Harris.
“Everything they did was flawless,” Davis said.
Especially in the first half, when the Badgers, who never trailed, raced to a 37-15 lead at the break.
Wisconsin began the game with a 15-4 run that included five points from Wilkinson.
Indiana pulled to 18-10 on a basket by Marshall Strickland with 8:51 left in the first half, but Wilkinson had two 3-pointers and scored eight points to key a 15-0 run that gave the Badgers a 33-10 lead with 4:22 remaining.
“When I saw the first half, where guys were just knocking shots down left and right, I kind of knew it was going to be that kind of night,” said Harris, who also surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career. “It was just a good night for us.”
And a bad one for Wright, shut down by Boo Wade and the Badgers. Wade constantly had a hand in Wright’s face, and on the rare occasion Wright got past Wade he had one or more Wisconsin defenders waiting for him in the paint.
“Tonight, I struggled more than I ever have in my career,” said Wright, who has missed 33 of his last 38 shots since making his first nine against North Texas on Dec. 29. “Going 2-for-15 is something that I’m not accustomed to. It’s something that I’m not proud of.”