Indiana finished one of its best Big Ten seasons and also got a glimpse of what's ahead in the NCAA tournament when the second-ranked Hoosiers held on to beat Wisconsin, 87-80, Sunday at Madison, Wis.
"We know that each team we play is going to be a hard team, they're going to come at us and give it their best shot," Indiana guard Greg Graham said.
"What we've got to realize is that we have to play up to our expectations and play better down the stretch. When the tournament starts we can't have any lapses like we did in the second half today."
Graham had 22 of his game-high 27 points in the first half as the Hoosiers built a 53-31 halftime lead. But they had to withstand a Wisconsin rally that cut the advantage to six.
"We played much better than I could have hoped or expected in the first half," Indiana Coach Bob Knight said. "Then I think we got a little complacent with where we were and Wisconsin picked it up.
"We had some shaky play against some good Wisconsin play, yet we made some defensive plays when we had to. This was not an easy game to win--there are a lot of teams that would have lost this game."
Indiana (28-3) finished 17-1 in the Big Ten. Only Knight's teams in 1975 and 1976 that were 18-0 had a better conference mark in league history. The 1953 Indiana team also was 17-1 in the league. Wisconsin (14-13) earned a berth in the NIT.
"After the game, Coach Knight came over to me and said he knew the NIT was going to invite us, so that's a reliable source," Jackson said.
"We struggled at the end of the season, but we came back in this game and played the way we're capable in the second half. We got aggressive in the second half and made a nice run at them."
The scoreboard and shot clock did not function for the first 3:40. By the time it was fixed, the Hoosiers had a 12-2 lead.
Wisconsin closed within one, but Indiana's defense, fast break and rebounding strength--21-12 in the first half--took over and the Hoosiers ran out to their big halftime advantage.
Graham sank a three-pointer just before the first-half buzzer to cap a 33-12 run over the final 11:38.
Graham made eight of his 12 first-half shots, including four of five three-pointers.
Anderson has started Ohio State's last six games and has scored in double figures each time, including a career-high 23 points as the Buckeyes upset No. 18 Purdue at West Lafayette, Ind.
"The big thing is his hand is completely healed," Ayers said. "He was feeling a lot of discomfort when he came back. . . . I think he's getting to the point now where he doesn't have any discomfort."
Anderson, whose previous career-high of 20 helped the Buckeyes upset conference champion Indiana on Feb. 23, had 14 points in the first half as Ohio State, which earned an NIT berth, took a lead it never relinquished.
"The hand bothered my shot. It threw it off for a while," said Anderson, who made two of three-pointers and seven of eight shots. "I took my time and worked to get my confidence back, and now it's there."
Purdue (18-9, 9-9) missed its first nine shots while Ohio State (15-12, 8-10) was scoring the game's first nine points. The game was nearly five minutes old before Matt Painter scored the Boilermakers' first points.