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Badgers take their toll on Indiana

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Aaron Brenner/Special to the Gazette
February 1, 2008
— Welcome to the Kohl Center, where the story sometimes is different, but the result never seems to change.

The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team has developed a reputation for being nearly unbeatable on its home court, and the No. 13 Badgers flexed their muscles again Thursday with a 62-49 win over 11th-ranked Indiana


Wisconsin’s win left the Hoosiers (17-3, 6-1) with their first Big Ten loss and lifted the Badgers, Michigan State into a first-place tie at 7-1.


Junior forward Marcus Landry had his first career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, while sophomore guard Trevon Hughes led the Badgers with 16 points, despite a 3-for-15 night on field goals.


For UW coach Bo Ryan and his Badgers (17-3), the last two home victories hadn’t been pretty. Northwestern, now 0-7 in the Big Ten, was down just two points at halftime, and Michigan (1-8) took Wisconsin down to the wire in a 64-61 defeat.


So if the Badgers felt they needed to respond to murmurs that their Kohl Center advantage was slowly declining—or at least offer a response after their first Big Ten loss last Saturday at Purdue—they did so in fine fashion against the Hoosiers.


“One of the main things this game showed tonight was how we can respond from a tough loss,” said forward Joe Krabbenhoft, who was his usual versatile self with six points to go with 12 rebounds and five assists, both team highs. “We could’ve hung our heads and been upset with dropping down from the ranks in the Big Ten.


“But we all looked at each other in the eye and said, “We’re right back in it with a win,’ ” Krabbenhoft added. “Guys fought. I think that’s the most important thing.”


Indiana’s star players made it interesting in the second half, especially when freshman guard Eric Gordon scored 12 of his 16 points and 6-foot-9, 251-pound forward D.J. White muscled in 13 of his 22. But the Badger lead that swelled to 46-26 was too much for coach Kelvin Sampson’s Hoosiers to overcome.


“This was a different kind of team we played tonight,” Sampson said. “We’ve been pretty good on the road against the teams we’ve played. But Wisconsin’s really good.”


Indiana cut the lead to five with 6:24 to go, but with an electric crowd backing them—and getting some physical defensive rebounds from Krabbenhoft—the Badgers reeled off a 14-6 run to close out the Hoosiers.


“Sometimes you go to places where the crowd fits the team,” said Sampson, who has 493 career wins but had never coached before in the Kohl Center. “I don’t know if that makes sense, but the way they play fits this crowd. They really appreciate it.”


Sampson then added some extremely high praise for the Badgers—a flattering comparison to the Wisconsin team that was 30-6 a season ago with a stint at the No. 1 ranking.


“I told Bo, I think his team this year is maybe not as glamorous—although I don’t think glamorous really describes his team,” Sampson said. “They’re a little different. But they’re good. I like his team this year almost as good as last year’s team.”


Ryan seemed more amused than anything else at Sampson’s assessment.


“I thought we were on Candid Camera at first,” Ryan joked. “He’s not blowing smoke … maybe there are certain things that were givens last year. This year, with our group … how do you prepare for us?


“It was a similar game in Indiana last year,” Ryan said of Wisconsin’s 71-66 loss at Bloomington last January. “We just got a few more possessions than them (this time), and they had to play from behind. I think that took its toll.”



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