The eighth-ranked Buckeyes saw their chances of winning at least a portion of their third consecutive Big Ten title all but ruined, as the team left their arena for the final time this season having suffered two losses in their final three home games.
"They weren't ready to practice and this team has shown they play like they practice," Matta said. "When this team plays well, you can see an energy about them. You can see it in their eyes and their body language. I think at times they don't understand what I see in our approach and that sort of thing."
Jared Berggren scored the final five points for the No. 16 Badgers, including a three-pointer to give Wisconsin the 61-59 lead with 30.7 seconds left in the game.
Deshaun Thomas scored 23 points for the Buckeyes (23-6, 11-5 Big Ten) and senior guard William Buford added 15 points in his final home game, but Ohio State fell behind first-place Michigan State by two games with two regular season games remaining.
The Buckeyes called a timeout to draw up a final play after Berggren's three, but Thomas was forced into a double-clutch attempt from the top of the key with 16 seconds left that went off the mark. Berggren got the rebound and was fouled before knocking down two free throws to give the Badgers the 63-59 advantage with 14 seconds remaining.
"It was a play for me," Thomas said of his final shot. "I thought I was wide open, but (Wisconsin's defender) got out of the screen quick. I was in my shooting range, but it was great defense by them and they made me change my shot."
Ohio State looked to be on its way to taking control of the game when sophomore big man Jared Sullinger – who was held to only eight points by the Badgers – followed up his own miss with a layup to put the Buckeyes ahead 43-42 at the 10:00 mark.
Aaron Craft forced a turnover by Taylor on the next possession and found a running Buford in transition before the senior finished a finger roll layup and a foul. Buford knocked down the free throw for the three-point play to extend Ohio State's lead to three.
Ohio State came up with another stop on a missed jumper by Wisconsin's Ryan Evans on the next possession and Buford drew a foul by Mike Bruesewitz before knocking down two free throws to extend the team's lead to five.
Rob Wilson misfired on a three after Buford's makes from the line and Craft – who finished the game with 13 points – knocked down a jumper in the lane to extend Ohio State's lead to 50-42 with 8:14 remaining.
"We thought we were (getting the game in control)," Buford said. Wisconsin, however, didn't go anywhere.
It was a Berggren three – this time an attempt that clanked high off the iron before falling into the hoop – that got the Badgers run going.
Though Evan Ravenel knocked down 1-of-2 free throw attempts for the game's next points to put Ohio State up 51-45 with six minutes remaining in the game, a Taylor three and a reverse layup by Josh Gasser on the Badgers' next two offensive possessions brought the team within one.
Taylor capped Wisconsin's 10-1 run with a jumper, putting Wisconsin ahead 52-51 with 3:47 remaining in the contest.
The two teams went into the locker room at halftime tied at 29 despite Ohio State shooting very well from the floor. The Buckeyes shot over 70 percent for the majority of the first half before missing on their final six shot attempts of the half.
The Buckeyes, however, were never able to pull away from the Badgers because they turned the ball over 10 times, which is twice as many as Wisconsin had in the game's first 20 minutes.
"We can't push (the ball) to the point where we're out of control," Craft said. "Some if it was them, they came to play and they played really good defense. It was 10 times we didn't get a shot at the basket and it is not going to help us win basketball games."