Ohio State did something Thursday night it had not done all season - beat a ranked opponent. While playing with extreme effort for the entire game, the Buckeyes defeated No. 16 Wisconsin, 83-73, at Value City Arena.
OSU (16-13, 6-10 Big Ten) was 0-6 against ranked teams prior to its home matchup with Wisconsin (22-6, 11-4).
"I hope these guys got a good taste of what it feels like to win a game,” said OSU coach Thad Matta, who has now coached a program-best 457 games for the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes dominated the first half, holding an 18-2 advantage for points in the paint and grabbing 23 rebounds compared to Wisconsin's 12.
"The numbers told the story in the first half," said Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard. "As soon as I saw the stat sheet, it confirmed what my eyes told me in the first half."
Jae'Sean Tate had 13 points and 10 boards for OSU in the first 20 minutes alone. He finished with 15 points and 12 caroms.
The Buckeyes led by as many as 16 points in the opening period. Tate tossed in a layup with 32 seconds left to put OSU ahead, 44-28. Bronson Koenig hit a triple with five ticks remaining in the first frame to bring Wisconsin within 13 at halftime.
Following the intermission, Wisconsin cut it to nine on four separate occasions within the first nine minutes of the second half. The last of such occurrence happened when Ethan Happ made a layup at the 11:00 mark to make it a 56-47 game in favor of the hosts.
JaQuan Lyle and C.J. Jackson then each hit a three to extend the Buckeyes' lead to 62-47 with 9:19 left. OSU led by at least 10 points the rest of the way to pull off the upset.
"I feel like everybody was on the same page tonight," Tate said. "We played hard and it seemed like we couldn’t miss. That just comes from preparation two days before, we had two pretty good practices. We’ve just got to build off of this. If we play like this the rest of the time and in the Big Ten tournament, I feel like we can win.”
The Scarlet and Gray's second-half advantage swelled to as many as 20 points twice. Micah Potter hit two free throws with 4:39 remaining to give OSU a 77-57 lead. Marc Loving converted a pair of foul shots as well to spot the Buckeyes a 79-59 margin at the 2:54 mark.
Jackson scored a career-high 18 points for the Buckeyes, going a perfect 4 of 4 from three-point range. The sophomore guard also had four rebounds, four assists and four steals.
“My teammates have great confidence in me," Jackson said. "They encourage me to shoot the ball and that’s what I was doing tonight. I just wanted to be more aggressive as well as get my teammates involved. I kind of looked for my shot a little bit more.”
Koenig led the Badgers with 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
OSU shot an even 50.0 percent (25 of 50) from the field and 62.5 percent (10 of 16) from three-point land against a Badger defense that was fourth in the nation in scoring defense (60.5 points per game) coming into the contest. Wisconsin, meanwhile, shot 43.9 percent (25 of 57) from the floor and 43.3 percent (13 of 30) from downtown.
The Buckeyes ended the game with 38 rebounds while the Badgers grabbed 25.
Looking ahead, OSU travels to University Park, Pa., to take on Penn State (14-14, 6-9) on Tuesday night.
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