Publish Date: 02/27/2019
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
Indiana finally found a way.
Heartbreak after heartbreak had occurred for these Hoosiers, but this game was looking different. Indiana had built a lead as high as 13-points in the second half, and it seemed like Indiana may put Wisconsin away a little early and keep us all off the edge of our seats.
But it’s never that easy with this team, is it?
The Badgers would go on a 20-3 run from that point on, storming back to take a four-point lead with 6:53 to go in the game, and everyone couldn’t help but wonder if we were watching yet another late Hoosiers collapse.
Yet something has been different about this team recently. In recent weeks, Indiana would collapse at the first sign of adversity, yet in this one, they found a way to hang around.
The game would eventually require two overtimes to decide the winner, and on that front, Indiana required late-game heroics from its star player, Romeo Langford. Langford would hit a go-ahead lay-up with just .7 seconds left on the clock in double overtime to seal Indiana’s victory and a victory that the Hoosiers desperately needed.
“Finally, I hit one” Langford would say after the game.
Langford played one of his best games of the season, tallying up 22 points and 7 rebounds on the night, and sealing the win when Indiana needed it. Langford had the ball in his hands for long stretches of this game, and Archie Miller’s faith in him paid off.
Indiana also received important contributions from a variety of players, Juwan Morgan, despite fouling out after 28 minutes of action, did a tremendous job defensively on Ethan Happ and chipped in 15 rebounds on the night. Rob Phinisee continued to work his way back into form, putting up a typical Phinisee stat line of 11 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 0 turnovers. And the contributions of Race Thompson, playing meaningful minutes after his return from a concussion, cannot be overlooked. With Morgan in foul trouble, Thompson recorded 22 minutes in this one, playing great defense on Happ along with recording 7 rebounds.
We also need to talk about Indiana’s team defense, which is how they won this game. Indiana stymied the Wisconsin offense for most of the night, holding them to just 39.1% from the field and just 27.3% from behind the arc. Indiana seemed content to play Happ one on one for most of the night to stop the Wisconsin shooters, and it paid off. In particular, the Indiana defense bunkered down when it mattered most, holding the Badgers to just 2-of-11 from the field in overtime.
Now finally with a win under their belt, Indiana will have to set their sights on the visiting Michigan State Spartans, who will travel to Bloomington for a huge game on Saturday. Though Indiana will still have plenty of work to do, there is a conceivable path for them to get back into the NCAA tournament discussion. Now possessing a resume that includes six quadrant one wins and zero quadrant three or four losses, one of just thirteen teams in the country to qualify for that statistic, there’s a window of opportunity there for Indiana. All that remains to be seen is whether they can take advantage of it.