(22) Wisconsin 64, Indiana 59: Last word

MADISON – No. 22 Wisconsin (8-1, 1-0) erased a 22-point deficit to beat Indiana (8-2, 1-1) 64-59 on Wednesday night at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Chris Vogt

Johnny Davis led the team in scoring and hit the go-ahead bucket in the final minutes, but he does not get those opportunities without Vogt. The transfer big man, who had seven points all season coming in, was forced into action with Steven Crowl in foul trouble and stepped up.

He had posted five of his six rebounds and all nine of his points after halftime, including six straight to get the Badgers within five with 4:19 left. Then, with 1:18 left, he found Davis for a 3-pointer to give Wisconsin its first lead since early in the game.

It was not just on offense, though. Vogt, along with Tyler Wahl and Ben Carlson, kept Indiana’s front court in check in the second half, including just three points from All-Big Ten center Trayce Jackson-Davis.

“He was awesome. He was so big,” guard Brad Davison said of Vogt. “He’s hitting floaters from the baseline — it’s got to be the toughest shot in basketball but he made it look easy, post moves back to the basket.

“Our whole team did a great job on their two big guys (Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson) trying to make life difficult for them inside, but (Vogt) was awesome on both ends of the floor.”

The game was a perfect illustration of why coach Greg Gard dipped into the transfer portal to get Vogt. When you have a younger guy like Crowl struggling, you can turn to the experienced Vogt to get you through a game. He did that and more for the Badgers on Wednesday.

The good: The comeback

Wisconsin erased a 22-point first half deficit and an 18-point second half deficit to open Big Ten play with a win. It is the third time they have been able to win a game this year when trailing by double digits, but this was the most improbable.

The Badgers did not play well offensively or defensively in the first half, and it showed in Indiana’s 42-25 lead at the break. But UW came out fighting in the second, getting the lead down to seven with 10:28 left. The Hoosiers countered, getting it back to a 12 just a few minutes later but Wisconsin would not go away. Over the final 8:59 the team outscored Indiana 20-3 to pull out the win.

“We got back to being ourselves in the second half,” Gard said. “I’m not sure who that team was in the first half. I asked them to have the original team I’d seen from the first eight games in there. That team, obviously, did a terrific job the second half, so I’m really proud of them. (It was) a gritty, gutty effort.”

The win was tied for the largest comeback in school history, according to UW officials, and is matched only by also erasing a 22-point deficit against Ohio State in 1976. It took everything Wisconsin had to make it happen.

“We’re just tough and gritty, like people have been saying,” Davis said. “But I mean, yeah, I’m definitely going to go to sleep when I get to my apartment. It’s not easy making a comeback like that, but I’m proud of the way we all played tonight. I’m sure all those guys are tired too.”

The not so good: The first half

The Badgers only needed the comeback because of how horrendous they played in the first 20 minutes. Wisconsin shot 31.3%, including 4-for-10 on layups, while also shooting just 1-for-10 from beyond the arc.

Indiana had a field day on the boards, collecting seven offensive rebounds and turning that into 11 second chance points. The Hoosiers also shot 54.8% from the floor and hit five of their eight shots from deep.

Stat of the Game: 23

That is how many points Davis had in the game, his fifth time scoring more than 20 this season. His final points came on a go-ahead 3-pointer in the corner that left the Kohl Center shaking. The sophomore also added a career-high nine rebounds and played all but three minutes now averaging 20.5 points per game this season.

What they said:

“Once I hit that three, I knew he were going to win the game. We had been playing solid defense the whole second half. They could barely even get a shot off in the final minute, so, yeah, I just knew we were going to win when I hit that.”

— Davis on his 3-pointer to give Wisconsin the lead with 1:18 left.

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In Case You Missed It

— Wisconsin played without guards Lorne Bowman and Jahcobi Neath, along with forward Markus Ilver. All three were out due to a non-COVID illness.

— Chucky Hepburn had zero points through the first 39:37 of the game, going 0-for-4. But he stepped to the free throw line four times in the final 23 seconds and hit all four to close out the game. Wisconsin went 8-for-8 in the final 3:00 of the game.

— Tyler Wahl had what proved to be the game-sealing block in the final minute. It was one of three on the night for the junior. He has now got 15 blocks on the season, just six shy of his total for all of last season. In addition to his blocks, he had a season-high 12 rebounds, seven points and three assists.

— Brad Davison hit a pair of 3-pointers, leaving him tied with D’Mitrik Trick for the second most (244) 3-pointers in school history.

— Wisconsin won its 19th straight home game against Indiana. It is tied for the longest home winning streak by any team against the Hoosiers.

What’s next?

Wisconsin will travel to Ohio State (6-2, 1-0) on Saturday to face the Buckeyes.