Ohio State remained winless in conference play as they didn’t really challenge Wisconsin in Madison, losing 89-66. The Badgers were able to earn their 16th straight win at the Kohl Center, and dropped Thad Matta to 2-9 in Madison during his time at Ohio State.
The Buckeyes showed a little bit of fight early, recovering from an early 16-7 deficit with a 7-0 run to pull within two. Things went downhill from there as Wisconsin finished up the first half with a 29-11 run to go into the break with a 45-27 lead. Bronson Koening led all scorer after the first 20 minutes with 15 points, while Nigel Hayes added 11 points. JaQuan Lyle was Ohio State’s leading scorer in the first half with 10 points.
Wisconsin picked up where they left off to start the second half, with Vitto Brown hitting two three-points early on to extend the lead to 24 points. Bronson Koening followed that up with a couple three-pointers of his own, and registered his 13th career game with at least four three-pointers.
The rest of the second half the Badgers continued to overwhelm the Buckeyes, extending the lead to more than 30 points on a number of occasions. The blowout victory for Wisconsin was even more impressive considering guard Zak Showalter saw limited minutes due to foul trouble, and Ethan Happ had a tough night shooting the basketball. If the Badgers continue to play this way the rest of the year, they’ll be a tough out not only in the Big Ten Tournament, but also the NCAA Tournament.
Wisconsin dominated Ohio State in the paint, holding a huge rebounding advantage over the Buckeyes. The Badgers grabbed 14 offensive rebounds in the first half, giving them plenty of points in the paint and second-chance points. Wisconsin’s defense gave Ohio State fits, which has become a common theme when the Buckeyes visit the Kohl Center. Ohio State was ice cold from the field, which only added to Wisconsin’s lead getting out of hand.
Koening finished with 21 points to pace the Badgers in the victory, while Nigel Hayes added 15 points, and Vitto Brown was the third Wisconsin player in double-figures with 12 points. Wisconsin shot just under 50% from the field, and drained 12 of the 22 three-pointers they attempted.
Ohio State’s leading scorer was JaQuan Lyle, who finished with 13 points. Trevor Thompson narrowly missed a double-double, scoring 11 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Kam Williams did most of his scoring in the second half when the game was already decided, adding 12 points in the losing effort. Ohio State did their best to contest Wisconsin’s shots, registering 10 blocks, with four of those being credited to Thompson.
Ohio State will be back in action on Sunday afternoon when they return to Value City Arena for a 1:30 p.m. ET tip against Michigan State. The game against the Spartans can be seen on CBS.
Here’s what we learned:
1) Ohio State is in a lot of trouble going forward. Expectations were high for the Buckeyes heading into the season with their top-six leading scorers from last year returning, but it looks like Ohio State will miss the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. The injury to Keita Bates-Diop has really hurt the Buckeyes, as not only is Ohio State without the talents of the junior forward, but it also shortens the bench.
The effort from Ohio State early on wasn’t bad, it was just clear that Wisconsin is a much better team at this point. With a game against Michigan State on Sunday, things are likely to get worse before they get better. It’s hard to find many wins for the Buckeyes the rest of the year in conference play, especially considering the starters will likely be on fumes by the end of the year due to the short bench that Ohio State has now due to transfers and injuries. It’s going to take a miracle for Thad Matta to see his streak of 11 straight seasons with at least 10 regular season wins in the Big Ten to continue.
2) Trevor Thompson is playing really good basketball, but he isn’t getting much help. The center has been the most consistent Buckeye this year, and he has been even better since being inserted into the starting lineup. The problem is, Thompson doesn’t have much support in the paint. When Thompson gets into foul trouble or needs a breather Thad Matta brings on Micah Potter, but the freshman doesn’t give Ohio State the same spark that Thompson is able to bring to the floor.
Wisconsin was able to exploit Ohio State’s lack of an inside presence, pulling down 14 offensive rebounds in the first half. Jae’Sean Tate does his best to play well above the 6-4 that he is listed at, but it just wasn’t enough against a Wisconsin team that has talented bigs like Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ. Had the Buckeyes not Daniel Giddens and Mickey Mitchell decide to transfer Wisconsin might have not had quite of an easy go at it on the inside, but all Thompson and Ohio State can do is try and get through the season and hope that reinforcements are on the way.
3) Madison has been a house of horrors for the Buckeyes lately. Coming into the game Ohio State had failed to reach 60 points in six of their last eight trips to Madison, but this was the most thorough beatdown the Buckeyes have suffered at the Kohl Center in quite some time. Last year Ohio State was able to crack the 60 point barrier, but it still wasn’t enough as the Badgers won 79-68.
With the way Wisconsin was shooting tonight, even some of the best teams in the nation would have a hard time keeping up with the Badgers. Bronson Koening continued his hot shooting of late, burying Ohio State with an avalanche of three-pointers. The one Buckeye who does seem to like playing in Madison despite the losses is JaQuan Lyle, who scored 27 points in the loss last season. With a 2-9 record at the Kohl Center, Thad Matta has to be hoping he doesn’t have to make another trip to Madison anytime soon.