OSU Has No Answer For Wisconsin, Harris

Wisconsin guard Devin Harris scored 33 points as the Big Ten-leading Badgers crushed Ohio State 78-48 Saturday night in Madison. The loss was OSU's 10th double-digit loss of the season and also dropped the Buckeyes under .500 at 11-12.

Ohio State got a firsthand look at why Wisconsin is so tough inside the Kohl Center Saturday night.

The 17th-ranked Badgers maintained their hold on the Big Ten lead and won for the 26th straight time on their home court, blasting the Buckeyes 78-48 before a sellout crowd of 17,142.

The game was similar to Wisconsin's 69-57 win in Columbus last month -- except this time OSU could not muster a late charge to make the final margin more palatable. OSU once again self-destructed before halftime, could not get anything going offensively and watched UW All-American candidate Devin Harris riddle them again.

After scoring 29 points against OSU in the first meeting, Harris tallied 33 points this time around. He was 7 of 16 from the floor, including 3 of 6 on three-pointers, and 16 of 18 at the foul line for the Badgers (17-4, 8-2), who maintained a half-game lead in the Big Ten standings.

"Devin Harris is a guy we can't guard," OSU coach Jim O'Brien told WBNS-AM. "He is an out and out star. He had 29 against us in Columbus and 33 tonight. He just took the game over while it was still in the balance. We couldn't court him."

Mike Wilkinson had 14 points and Clayton Hanson had 10 for Wisconsin.

OSU actually led 28-27 after Ricardo Billings went baseline and had a two-hand jam with 2:35 left in the first half. But the official ruled Billings hung on the rim and assessed a technical. Harris made one of two free throws, starting a string of nine straight UW points to end the half as the Badgers went up 36-28 at the half.

Remarkably, OSU was still in the game despite committing 17 first-half fouls. UW capitalized by hitting 18 of 20 free throws, while OSU was 0 of 1 at the foul line.

"We spent four days working on their offense and we thought we had the thing down," O‘Brien said. "But the foul trouble handcuffs you."

The Buckeyes would not stay in the game for very long in the second half. Wisconsin gradually pulled away in the second half, outscoring OSU 42-20 in the final 20 minutes.

"In the second half, when it started slipping away, there are only so many timeouts you can take," O'Brien said. "And, as we've seen that when things start going south and we need to put the brakes on, we are incapable of stopping it."

The teams combined for 53 fouls, including 32 by Ohio State (11-12, 3-7). J.J. Sullinger was the only Buckeye in double figures with 14 points. Brandon Fuss-Cheatham and Ivan Harris each had seven points for OSU, which absorbed its 10th double-digit defeat of the season.

The defeat was OSU's largest by margin since a 107-75 home loss to then-No. 10 Purdue on Feb. 7, 1998, O'Brien's first season as the OSU coach.

Particularly troubling was the line turned in by OSU's leading scorer Tony Stockman, who was 1 of 11 from the floor and finished with three points. OSU was a dismal 18 of 51 (35.3 percent) from the floor.

Harris and Wilkinson each hit three-pointers in the 9-0 run Wisconsin used to close the first half.

OSU still trailed just 47-37 when Terence Dials scored inside with 12 minutes left. But Wisconsin outscored OSU 25-7 over the next nine minutes to put the game away. Harris had 12 of those points. OSU managed just two field goals in the final 10-½ minutes of the game.

The Buckeyes return home to host Iowa (13-9, 6-5) Wednesday. The Hawkeyes defeated Michigan 69-61 Saturday. Iowa downed OSU 79-65 on Jan. 24 in Iowa City.

"Hopefully, we will be able to bounce back," O'Brien said. "That is what we have talked about all year, being able to bounce back.

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