BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP)—Indiana couldn’t get a break Wednesday. Not from the NCAA, not from Wisconsin, and in some cases, not even from its fans.
Brian Butch’s surprise banked 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds left ended one of the darkest days in Indiana basketball history as No. 15 Wisconsin held on for a 68-66 victory over the 13th-ranked Hoosiers.
Less than 12 hours before tip-off, school officials released a report from the NCAA which accused coach Kelvin Sampson of committing five “major” rules violations.
Sampson received a mixed reaction from the crowd when he was introduced before the game.
“Nothing outside of us hurt our team,” Hoosiers forward D.J. White said. “We were a family tonight. Tonight didn’t have anything to do with anything, we just didn’t win.”
Butch took care of that with his timely, but unplanned, 3-pointer.
Jason Bohannon finished with 18 points, all on 3-pointers, and Michael Flowers had 15 points, including three 3s, for the Badgers (20-4, 10-2 Big Ten).
The slugfest, which included 17 lead changes and six ties, was overshadowed by the newest alleged transgressions of Sampson, Indiana’s second-year coach.
Just 90 minutes before the game started, athletic director Rick Greenspan was finishing a news conference to give the university’s reaction to the allegations.
“I expect him to coach tonight, I expect him to coach in the foreseeable future,” Greenspan said. “What it means to me is we have work to do.”
It created a surreal environment at a university where basketball is king, and some fans couldn’t wait to voice their opinions.
When Sampson was introduced, there were more boos than cheers and two middle-aged fans seated across the floor from the Hoosiers coach wore white sweat shirts that had “Bring Back Bobby” scribbled in black marker, a reference to former Indiana coach Bob Knight.
Sampson also had some fans in the crowd.
A few students seated behind the south basket wore light blue T-shirts with red ties—Sampson’s trademark outfit. And two students in the same vicinity, but one section apart, each held up their own homemade signs that read “Sampson can call me anytime.”
After the game Sampson read a statement denying the accusastions, then repeatedly declined to answer any additional questions about the NCAA’s charges.
“The allegations that I knowingly acted contrary to the sanctions that occurred while I was at Oklahoma are not true,” he said. “I have never intentionally provided false or misleading information to the NCAA. I intend to work within the NCAA process on this matter, and I look forward to my opportunity to do so.”
Greenspan was unsure how Indiana (20-4, 9-2) would react to the pregame distractions, which included an early morning team meeting to explain what was going to happen.
White, who had 17 points and eight rebounds, insisted it had no impact. Freshman Eric Gordon, who finished with 23 points, didn’t even discuss it in the postgame news conference.
During the game, Sampson seemed unfazed and was usual self—energetic and enthusiastic—even though he cringed as the Hoosiers’ perimeter defense struggled in the first half. The Badgers rallied from a 23-14 deficit by hitting three straight 3-pointers and closed within 37-36 at halftime after going 8-of-15 on 3-pointers. Wisconsin finished with 11 3s.
“We’ve faced zones,” Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. “They can stay in the zone the whole game. That’s their choice. Those were wide-open 3s.”
Again it appeared the Hoosiers would take control early in the second half when they built a 46-40 lead. But the Badgers countered with a 9-2 run to make it 49-48 with 11:59 to go, setting up a wild finish in which the teams almost traded basket-for-basket.
During the final 96 seconds, the lead changed seven times, the last coming after Butch and Marcus Landry botched a handoff near the arc. Butch grabbed the ball, fired and banked it in.
“We did not diagram the bank,” Ryan said. “I don’t think any of our other guys would have banked it.”
Indiana still had one chance to pull it out.
But instead of getting the ball to Gordon or Armon Bassett, the Hoosiers’ best 3-point shooters, it ended up in Jamarcus Ellis’ hands and his shot bounded off the back of the rim adding yet another chapter to an already bleak night.
“Wisconsin had Landry and Butch on the perimeter and they kind of bobbled the handoff and it ended up in Butch’s hands,” Sampson said. “When it left his hand, I thought it was long off the glass, but it went straight in. Sometimes it’s just a game of breaks.”