BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP)—A.J. Ratliff’s scariest moment came after the game was over.
Ratliff scored 18 of his season-high 20 points in the second half and Indiana held off No. 2 Wisconsin 71-66 on Wednesday night, ending the Badgers’ 17-game winning streak. But before Ratliff and the rest of his teammates could get off the court, several thousand delirious fans stormed out of the stands and onto the floor in celebration.
“I’m claustrophobic anyway,” said Ratliff, who was quickly mobbed by the Indiana fans. “I was just trying to get to the locker room. It was funny, but it was kind of scary at the same time.”
Ratliff was even scarier for the Badgers during the game. He had a pair of 3-pointers during a 13-1 run and another 3-pointer that gave the Hoosiers (16-5, 6-2 Big Ten) a 53-43 lead with under 10 minutes remaining.
A rebound basket by Alando Tucker, who led Wisconsin (21-2, 7-1) with 23 points, and two 3-pointers by Kammron Taylor helped the Badgers tie the game at 59. But Ratliff scored six of Indiana’s next eight points, including two free throws with a minute to go to for a 70-66 lead, and the Badgers never recovered.
Ratliff, a junior guard who has been the Hoosiers’ top scorer off the bench in the past three games and in five of the past six, hit 6-of-7 shots, including four 3-pointers, in the second half.
“I felt somebody had to step up and make a play,” he said. “I felt like I was hitting all my shots and I was open, so I had all the confidence in the world.”
D.J. White added 16 points for the Hoosiers, who beat their highest-ranked opponent since an NCAA tourney upset of No. 1 Duke in 2002.
“This was a tremendous college basketball game,” Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said. “When you get down to a possession game, you’ve got to make baskets.”
Sampson, the former Oklahoma coach who took over at Indiana for Mike Davis this season, said he wasn’t worried about the crush of fans as the game ended.
“I have security guys,” he joked. “I have a lot of confidence in my offensive line.”
Still, he wasn’t exactly comfortable.
“In the last five or six years, I was always on the other side of that,” he said. “We (Oklahoma) would lose and because we were so highly ranked the other fans would rush the court. I can’t remember having fans (at home) rush the court like that.”
After Ratliff’s final basket, Tucker missed the first of a one-and-one free throw opportunity and the Hoosiers rebounded as the Assembly Hall crowd began chanting “A-J-Ratliff.”
Tucker also missed a 3-point try with 10 seconds left, and Earl Calloway iced the game by hitting one of two free throws.
“The crowd definitely was a key for them, gave them a lot of energy, gave them a boost,” Tucker said. “But it’s always tough to play here. And the way they’re playing here, they’re doing a tremendous job here at home.”
Tucker, second in the Big Ten in scoring at 19.6, had 14 points in the first half, but the Badgers never pulled away despite Indiana’s poor shooting early in the game.
“We knew from the start it was going to be tough to pull this out. I don’t think we came out with a lot of energy from the start, and that was the tale of the game,” Tucker said.
Indiana went scoreless more than 5 minutes and fell behind 13-7 before Ratliff, Mike White, Joey Shaw entered the game.
Two baskets by Mike White, a fast-break layup by Shaw and another drive to the basket by Ratliff put the Hoosiers ahead, and there were three more lead changes before another basket by White and two more by Shaw made it 26-23, matching Indiana’s biggest lead of the half.
Wisconsin’s final lead was at 40-37 on two free throws by Tucker, but Ratliff’s first 3-pointer started an 11-0 run that put the Hoosiers ahead for good.
“They play hard, they play smart and they hit some shots. That’s a heck of a combination,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.
“I liked some of our looks down the stretch. But we hadn’t had a lot of experience playing from behind, down that far.”