MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin had already bounced back from its rough start in the Big Ten Conference. Now Jordan Taylor and the 25th-ranked Badgers know they can win even on a bad shooting night.
Despite going 4-for-17 from 3-point range, Wisconsin fell back on its defense Thursday to beat No. 16 Indiana, 57-50.
Ben Brust scored 13 points and Ryan Evans added 12 for the Badgers (17-5, 6-3 Big Ten), who have won five straight.
“We just had to keep believing that we have a good team,” forward Jared Berggren said. “We really believe that. Despite the struggles at the start of the Big Ten, we knew what we had here. We knew we had guys that weren’t going to give up easy.”
Now, Berggren said, the Badgers believe they are back in the Big Ten race.
“I just like the grit in this group,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.
Verdell Jones and Christian Watford scored 12 points each for the Hoosiers (16-5, 4-5), who have lost four of their past five games.
The Badgers have won nine straight over Indiana.
“They play at a snail’s pace, and you’ve got to steal possessions against them,” Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said. “We struggled getting those balls.”
Berggren had a career-high five blocks, leading the way in a strong defensive effort against Indiana standout freshman forward Cody Zeller.
Zeller scored seven points on 2-for-7 shooting.
“I had to limit his touches, and just try to battle with him,” Berggren said. “Just try to make everything difficult for him and I was able to come up with a couple blocks.”
Mike Bruesewitz and Taylor had 10 points each for the Badgers.
“Obviously I didn’t shoot the ball that great,” Taylor said. “I’m not too worried about that. Like I said, any time you cannot shoot the ball well and go out and get a win against a really good team is always fun. Especially a team like that, that has so many scorers, to hold them to 50 points. That’s pretty impressive.”
With Wisconsin leading 49-48, Josh Gasser found Bruesewitz open inside, and he slammed it with both hands for a 51-48 lead with 2:47 left.
Then Watford missed two free throws, but he got another chance after Wisconsin lost the ball. He made a long jumper in transition, cutting the lead to one with 2:05 left.
Evans then came up with a critical rebound and was fouled. He made two free throws to put Wisconsin up by three with 1:04 remaining.
“When shots aren’t going down, you’ve got to rely on your defense a little bit,” Berggren said. “We did a pretty good job of being able to do that tonight.”AROUND THE NATION
TAR HEELS ROUT RIVAL — At Chapel Hill, N.C., Tyler Zeller had 21 points and a career-best 17 rebounds to help No. 7 North Carolina (17-3, 4-1 Atlantic Coast) beat North Carolina State, 74-55. The only highlight for the Wolfpack (15-6, 4-2) came when Lorenzo Brown banked in an 80-foot heave to beat the halftime horn.
GATORS HANG ON — At Oxford, Miss., Patric Young scored 15 points and No. 14 Florida (16-4, 4-1 Southeastern) rallied from a double-digit first-half deficit for a 64-60 win over Mississippi (13-7, 3-3).
LATE RUN LIFTS CAVALIERS — At Charlottesville, Va., Mike Scott scored 18 points and No. 19 Virginia (16-3, 3-2 ACC) used a 22-3 second-half surge to pull away from Boston College (7-13, 2-4) for a 66-49 victory.
FIRST-PLACE GAELS ROLL — At Los Angeles, Stephen Holt scored 19 points to propel No. 21 Saint Mary’s (20-2, 9-0 West Coast) to a 71-64 win over Loyola Marymount (12-9, 5-3).
WOLF PACK EXTEND STREAK — At Las Cruces, N.M., Deonte Burton scored 17 points and UNR (17-3, 6-0 Western Athletic) won its 14th straight game with a 68-60 victory over New Mexico State (14-7, 4-2). Dario Hunt added 15 points and eight rebounds.