12:17 PM ET, March 6, 2004
Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Devin Harris and the Wisconsin defense provided a fitting finish to Indiana's miserable regular season.Another anguishing loss.Harris scored 26 points, including 16 in the game's first 13 minutes, and Wisconsin's defense completely shut down Indiana's offense as the Badgers (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) pulled away for a 70-52 win Saturday."I got some open looks, I even got one to go off the backboard," Harris said with a smile.Wisconsin's victory put it in position to claim a share of its third straight Big Ten title.The Badgers (21-6, 12-4) have now won two straight at Assembly Hall since snapping a 22-game losing streak in Bloomington but still need No. 18 Illinois to lose Sunday at Ohio State to tie for the Big Ten crown."There's nothing else we can do right now on the league race," coach Bo Ryan said. "We've got a little viewing session tomorrow with Ohio State and Illinois. Watch that game, I guess."For the Hoosiers (13-14, 7-9) it was another lesson in futility. Indiana shot just 34.5 percent from the field and was just 6-of-23 from 3-point range.Coach Mike Davis showed his frustration by once going face-to-face with official Phil Bova and the agony of a trying season was revealed in A.J. Moye's tears when he left the game with about a minute left.Moye led the Hoosiers with 11 points and nine rebounds in his final regular-season home game. George Leach, also a senior, added 10 points.The result also was humbling -- a fourth straight loss to Wisconsin and a seventh loss this season at Assembly Hall.Indiana hadn't lost that many home games since 1984-85, the last time it missed the NCAA tournament, and will need at least two wins at next week's Big Ten tournament just to qualify for the NIT.The Hoosiers haven't missed the postseason since 1976-77. They also hadn't lost a regular-season home finale since 1998 when then coach Bob Knight drew three technical fouls."I wish we could have given you something better, but we've got a lot left, we've got the tournament," Moye told the fans afterward.On Saturday, the Badgers had everything working.Harris dominated the first half by hitting four 3-pointers and then cutting in for a couple of lay-ups. When he wasn't scoring, his teammates were.Mike Wilkinson added 13 points and six assists and backup Zach Morley finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.But the difference in the game was defense.Indiana could not get good shots and Wisconsin's patience never gave the Hoosiers a chance."We ain't the three stooges, but that's what it looked like out there," Indiana coach Mike Davis said. "How can you explain it?"Harris, for one.He got started Wisconsin started, breaking a 12-12 tie with his third 3-pointer just nine minutes into the game.Indiana managed just three more baskets the rest of the half -- a layup from Pat Ewing Jr., a 7-footer from Donald Perry and a short hook shot from George Leach.The Badgers took advantage, cruising to a 33-18 halftime lead."If he's on, we're a totally different team because they can't guard anyone," Wilkinson said.Things got worse quickly in the second half.Wisconsin built a 42-34 lead with 15:34 to go and only had to contend with one Hoosiers' charge. Marshall Strickland hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Ryan Tapak followed that with a fadeaway 3 to make it 49-40 with 7:35 left.The Badgers answered with Morley's three-point play and Harris' layup to re-establish a 60-44 lead and put the game away."We ran our offense to perfection, we got lay-ups, we got fouls," Harris said. "It's just very satisfying knowing we're learning from our mistakes."