MADISON, Wis — MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin's latest victory, at home over unranked Indiana, might have been more impressive than winning back-to-back road games against ranked Big Ten foes.
Heresy you say?
Consider the manner in which No. 14 UW had to grind out a 69-58 victory over the Hoosiers on Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.
The Badgers couldn't get the job done on the inside early; center Frank Kaminsky appeared tentative; Ben Brust couldn't hit a 3-pointer no matter how much room he was given by the Hoosiers; and UW trailed by 10 points after 20 minutes.
Then came the second half, when UW hit 6 of 11 three-pointers, 13 of 21 shots overall and tallied 50 points.
"They are shooting the ball at an amazing rate right now, with the way they are shooting it from three, the way they are getting to the foul line and the way Frank Kaminsky is playing," Indiana coach Tom Crean said before the game. "So they are obviously hot for a reason. They are playing both ends of the court with great confidence."
Brust hit his first three 3-pointers in the second half after going 0-of-4 in the first half, and UW hit 6 of its first 8 shots to energize a crowd craving to get emotionally invested.
"Everyone is smiling a little bit more when you're winning," Brust said before the game. "We want to keep winning because we want to keep smiling."
Sam Dekker scored six of his team-high 16 points during a crucial 12-0 run that ended with UW leading, 58-43, with 3 minutes, 25 seconds left.
The Badgers (23-5, 10-5 Big Ten) extended their overall winning streak to six games, defeating Indiana for the 12th consecutive time at the Kohl Center and maintained sole possession of third place.
UW moved within one game of second-place Michigan State (22-6, 11-4) and 1 1/2 games of first-place Michigan (19-7, 11-3).
Michigan plays at Purdue on Wednesday; Michigan State hosts Illinois on Saturday.
Indiana (15-12, 5-9), which won the Big Ten title outright last season, dropped into a tie for eighth with Purdue.
Dekker hit 5 of 7 shots and contributed seven rebounds and three blocks.
Guard Traevon Jackson added 14 points, nine in the second half. He generally played solid defense on Indiana's Yogi Ferrell.
Brust, who entered the night 15 of 57 from 3-point range in the last nine games, finished 3 of 9 from 3-point range and added 12 points.
"I've just got to keep going," he said before the game. "I really don't even know what to say. It's basketball. They're going to start falling. They have to.
"I'm not worried. They're going to start falling."
Gasser added 11 points and Kaminsky added 10 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Indiana built a 29-19 lead in the first half. Will Sheehey scored Indiana's first 7 points, in the opening 2:53. He missed his final four shots.
Indiana handed UW its first loss of the season, 75-72, last month in Bloomington.
In that game, the Hoosiers scored 52 points in the paint and shot 51.6 percent (32 of 62).
Ferrell led the Hoosiers that night - despite hitting just 1 of 8 3-point attempts - by hitting 9 of 16 2-point attempts en route to a 25-point performance.
Three other Indiana players scored in double figures as the Hoosiers wiped out a 10-point deficit in the second half.
On Tuesday, UW held Indiana to 42.1 percent shooting (24 of 57) but the Badgers' Achilles' heel was shooting - at least early.
In short, the Badgers didn't get enough looks in the lane and couldn't hit open shots from the perimeter.
UW made just 1 of its first 7 field-goal attempts and fell behind, 7-2, 2:53 into the game.
Freshman Nigel Hayes sparked UW with 4 points before picking up his second foul with 12:05 left.
Jackson hit a 3-pointer to give UW a 15-14 lead with 8:18 left in the half but the Hoosiers dominated the rest of the way.
Ferrell scored 8 points and Noah Vonleh added 4 to help the Hoosiers outscore UW, 15-4, over the final 7:02.
UW made just 1 of its final 9 shots in the half and finished 1 of 10 from three-point range (10 percent) and 7 of 27 overall (25.9 percent).
Dekker scored 5 points to spark a 9-2 run in the first 2:55 of the half and force Crean to call a timeout.
Vonleh steadied Indiana with consecutive baskets over Hayes but Brust hit consecutive three-pointers, in a span of 57 seconds, to pull UW within 35-34.
Brust's third consecutive three-pointer gave UW a 41-38 lead with 13:04 left .
Unable to hit shots in the first half, UW continued to make plays in the second half to maintain a small lead.
Bronson Koenig scored on a drive to give UW a 46-41 lead and after a basket by Vonleh, Dekker buried a long jumper for a 48-43 lead.
UW went into the bonus with 7:38 remaining, and Dekker hit both free throws and then followed with a drive for a 52-43 UW lead with 5:43 left.
After Brust forced a jump ball that gave UW the ball back, Gasser buried a 3-pointer from the right wing for a 55-43 lead with 5:06 left.