Ohio State fell into a huge hole early at Wisconsin and was never able to climb out, dropping a 71-49 decision Sunday afternoon to the 20th-ranked Badgers at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Wisconsin blew open a 6-6 game early in the first half with an 18-0 run that included a trio of three-pointers from junior guard Ben Brust, who turned in a double-double performance with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. The Buckeyes missed 14 consecutive shots during the 8:46 run before junior forward Deshaun Thomas finally ended the drought with a putback off his own missed shot.
By that time, the Badgers held a 24-8 advantage at the 8:56 mark, a lead that ballooned to many as 20 points when freshman Sam Dekker buried a three with 3:48 left until the half to make it 34-14.
The Buckeyes followed with a mini 6-0 spurt to make things more respectable at 34-20 with 1:54 remaining, but they couldn’t sustain any momentum. Wisconsin answered with an old-fashioned three-point play from senior center Jared Berggren and a beautiful layup by senior forward Mike Bruesewitz off a bounce-pass assist from sophomore guard Traevon Jackson to go back up by 19 at 39-20 at the 1:05 mark.
Thomas finished the first-half scoring with a layup inside 50 seconds, but Ohio State was forced to head to the locker room staring at a 39-22 deficit against the Big Ten’s leading defensive team.
The 22 first-half points marked the lowest total for a half by the Buckeyes this season, surpassing the 24 they scored in the first meeting between the two teams. But while that contest resulted in a 58-49 OSU victory Jan. 29 at Value City Arena, history did not repeat itself.
Ohio State had a Chance Early in the second half to get back in the game but squandered the opportunity.
In the opening moments of the second 20 minutes, sophomore forward Sam Thompson scored on a layup, earned an intentional foul from Bruesewitz, and then scored on a floater in the lane. That cut the Buckeyes’ deficit to 39-26 with 19:16 still left to play.
But while that small flurry helped, OSU could cut into Wisconsin’s lead even more. Thompson missed the free throw following the intentional foul and then lost the handle on a layup on the Buckeyes’ next trip down the floor.
The Badgers responded with a 19-9 run over the next 11 minutes to salt things away. Brust’s layup finished the spurt to give Wisconsin a 58-35 lead with 8:13 remaining.
UW’s lead got as high as 26 points at the 3:01 mark when senior forward Ryan Evans scored on an acrobatic offensive rebound, leaping high above the rim to snare the basketball and then flush it back through the cylinder with a thunderous dunk.
That put the exclamation point on a victory that kept Wisconsin (18-8, 9-4 Big Ten) two games behind league-leading Indiana and Michigan State in the conference standings. Meanwhile, Ohio State (18-7, 8-5) fell three games off the pace with only five league games remaining.
Thomas led the Buckeyes with a game-high 18 points, but made only 8 of 17 attempts from the floor. Thompson was the only other OSU player in double figures with 10 as the Buckeyes shot a chilly 37.5 percent (21 for 56) for the game. That included 3 for 12 (25.0 percent) from three-point range and 4 for 11 (44.4 percent) at the free-throw line.
The Badgers connected on 52.7 percent of their shots (29 for 55) and were 7 for 19 (36.8 percent) from long range.
Berggren matched Brust for team-high scoring honors with 15 points and added eight rebounds and four blocked shots. Dekker chipped in with 13 points off the bench, and Jackson, the son of former Ohio State All-America guard Jim Jackson, scored 10 points – all in the second half – to go along with four assists, two rebounds and a steal.