IU lost heavily at Wisconsin on Friday night, 91-79. Here are three reasons why:
Kel'el Ware is missing
Kel'el Ware was surprisingly missing from the lineup Friday night, leaving the Hoosiers shorthanded and underdogs in Madison.
Ware was listed as questionable on the pregame availability report and then appeared at the arena wearing a walking boot. He ended up sitting next to his injured teammate Jakai Newton because he suffered a lower leg injury in training, according to the broadcast.
Insider: When it comes down to it, this IU team shys away from the moment.
A “disconnected” mess. 19 games into the season, IU doesn't know what it is.
It didn't help against the Big Ten-leading Badgers. With a week and a day between trips to Madison and Champaign, Indiana will hope Ware's leg has time to heal. He is vital to this team's continued success, especially with Illinois next in line.
3 point problems
Indiana's improvement behind the 3-point line hasn't always followed the Hoosiers on the road. This script followed on Friday evening.
With the game in the balance, Wisconsin turned the arc into a weapon through Max Klesmit (26 points, five made 3s), making key shots to slow IU's momentum every time it started to build.
Across the room, the Hoosiers couldn't find answers. Mackenzie Mgbako and Trey Galloway, two of this team's most dangerous 3-point shooters in recent memory, combined for just 4 of 10 points, with too many of them chasing from long range with IU. Indiana finished the game with a 12-point lead from distance, an overly familiar saying for a team that has struggled to produce results, especially away from Assembly Hall.
IU lost everywhere on Friday. But on a night when the Hoosiers needed some offense, they once again just absorbed body blows from behind the arc.
A worrying lack of attitude
CJ Gunn's ejection for a flagrant-2 foul, IU's third standard foul in the last four games and second throwable foul in that time, will make headlines. In reality, it was little more than a placeholder for the performance of a team that clearly lacks toughness, cohesion or composure at the moment of the season when all three are needed most.
Whatever you think of Gunn's ejection – he clearly elbowed Klesmit, for whatever reason – it was just one moment in a night full of examples of Indiana losing all confidence and collective strength as a group.
The Wisconsin runs felt like they had a dual impact on the psyche of a team whose own belief (and therefore effort) waxed and waned at the slightest adversity. After consecutive capitulations to the Big Ten's toughest opposition, questions about leadership will only intensify. Any inkling that this team was ready to prove itself in two much-needed Quad 1 opportunities this week was dispelled with equal force and concern.
Mike Woodson has a job ahead of him in the coming weeks that goes beyond Xs and Os. His team falls apart far too easily when the going gets tough, and it's about to get even tougher. If he can't keep the Hoosiers together, this season will end badly.
Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.