Going scoreless for over seven minutes and seeing forward Deshaun Thomas find his groove down the stretch, the Badgers reverted back to their offensive woes to allow No.11 Ohio State to claim a 58-49 victory at Value City Arena.
The victory is the 64th straight home victory for Ohio State (16-4, 6-2 Big Ten) against unranked opponents, and keeps the Buckeyes a half game out of first place in the Big Ten. Wisconsin (14-7, 5-3) on the other hand was held to less than 40 percent shooting (36.5 percent) and 50 points for the third-straight game.
But the offense wasn't the biggest problem for the Badgers – who dropped into fifth place in the league - as much as it was their lack of interior defense in the second half, particularly when Thomas got going.
Being stymied by Wisconsin's defense in the first half, Ohio State's second-half adjustments proved productive. Missing its first field goal of the second half, Ohio State hit eight straight attempts to take its first lead since 13-11.
The Buckeyes weren't done, as Ohio State took advantage of nine straight empty possessions and a 7:10 scoring drought from Wisconsin to build a nine-point lead, the largest of the game.
The 15-0 run was spurred by Thomas, who scored eight of his points during the stretch, and points in the paint. Ohio State scored 34 points in the paint, including eight virtual uncontested layups.
"That's how you end up going on a 15-point run," said assistant coach Lamont Paris, as Ohio State was shooting 88.9 percent from the floor at one point. "They attacked the basket. You've got to give them credit for that, but we didn't do a good job defending the paint area."
After the Ohio State surge, Wisconsin got back-to-back three-pointers from Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren, but the Badgers made only one bucket in the final 4:29. In UW's final 19 possessions, Wisconsin scored only eight points.
Wisconsin entered the night No. 2 in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage defense in league games (38.9 percent), but the Buckeyes hit 12 of its first 16 shots in the half and finished the half at 63.6 percent (14 of 22). Ohio State finished shooting 51.1 percent overall (23 of 45).
It was only the second time a Division 1 team failed to attempt a free throw in a game (North Florida vs. Pittsburgh) and the first time the Badgers failed to attempt a free throw in 390 games under Bo Ryan.
"We struggled to get baskets," said Paris. "We need to do a better job of attacking, pump faking, slowing down and drawing some contact. (We) need to make it obvious that they get fouled down there. We weren't able to do that and manufacture points that way."
Wisconsin got 13 points from Traevon Jackson and got 12 points and nine rebounds from Berggren, as Wisconsin shot 39.3 percent (11-for-28) from three-point range. Every starter made at least two points except for Evans, who finished with two points on 1-for-10 shooting and three turnovers.
After scoring his team's first eight points in the first 9:21, Thomas didn't have another field goal attempt the remainder of the half. His teammates weren't much better, as Ohio State got production from only two other players and players not named Thomas shot 5-for-15 from the floor.
That changed after halftime, as Ohio State's bench outscored Wisconsin's 13-5 and the Badgers missed 12 of their final 15 shots.