Buckeyes Become Latest Victim At Wisconsin

Wisconsin's Mike Wilkinson scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Badgers extended their nation's best home winning streak to 37 with a 72-66 win over Ohio State. J.J. Sullinger had nine points and seven rebounds for the Buckeyes.

When the dust had cleared on Wisconsin's 72-66 Big Ten men's basketball win over Ohio State Tuesday night at the Kohl Center, the Buckeyes could have blamed their defeat on UW's Mike Wilkinson's career night.

They could also look at the disparity of fouls and free throws – each heavily in UW's favor – and just shrug and say, "Hey, that's life in the Big Ten."

But they could also simply do the right thing and blame themselves.

OSU worked hard to pare a 12-point Wisconsin lead down to four in the closing minutes. But they left Wilkinson – who finished with a career-high 29 points – wide open for a critical three-pointer with 2:08 left. Then, when the game was still in doubt, they allowed UW's Clayton Hansen to pull down a key offensive rebound with 47 seconds left.

Those two gaffes – as much as anything – helped spell defeat for the Buckeyes (12-4, 1-2). OSU became the latest home victim for the Badgers (11-3, 2-1), who extended their nation's best home winning streak to 37 games. The win also gave UW 25 straight conference home wins.

OSU coach Thad Matta was glad to see his team put a scare in the Badgers, but he would have liked it much better if they had finished the deal.

"In the first half, I felt like we came out and were up 20-15 and we got that lead and we played like we were shocked," Matta told WBNS-AM. "We couldn't believe we were ahead of Wisconsin at Wisconsin. Therefore, we softened up our defense and let Wilkinson just get going. That's just that mind-set and I talked to the guys about it. `Hey, you've got to believe. You're up 20-15. Don't act like that's a mistake.' "

On a night when Wilkinson's fiancé – a member of the Wisconsin pep band – sang the national anthem, he had a night he will always remember. He hit 12 of 18 shots from the floor, 4 of 7 at the foul line and also grabbed 10 rebounds. He picked up the slack as UW played without leading scorer Alando Tucker, who sat out after injuring his foot in practice Sunday.

After playing a season-high 38 minutes in OSU's win over Iowa on Saturday, OSU center Terence Dials was saddled with foul trouble. He logged only 24 minutes, amassing 15 points and eight rebounds before fouling out. His absence helped Wilkinson have his way inside.

"We were moving Wilkinson off the block, but he was making shots," Matta said. "There was nothing that we had that was going to be able to stop him. When Terence is out, that hurts us. His third and fourth fouls, I guess, welcome to the road. We have to play through that. We couldn't get over that hump in the second half and knock down the shots we had to make to get through it."

Matt Sylvester came off the bench and scored a career-high 14 points for OSU.

"Matt came in once again and gave us some great minutes," Matta said. "It was good to see Syl doing that. The better he can play, the better team we're going to be."

J.J. Sullinger and Tony Stockman each had nine points for the Buckeyes. Stockman endured one of his worst shooting nights yet, hitting 4 of 17 shots from the floor including just 1 of 9 from three-point range.

Brandon Fuss-Cheatham made a pair of three-pointers and finished with eight points and four assists. Ivan Harris netted five points, while Je'Kel Foster's three-pointer with three seconds left gave him his only points and accounted for the final six-point margin.

Hanson added 14 points and Sharif Chambliss added 11 for Wisconsin.

The Badgers had 14 fouls and were 16 of 24 (75 percent) at the foul line. OSU committed 23 fouls and was just 5 of 9 (55.6 percent) at the foul line.

Dials scored 10 of his points in the first eight minutes to help the Buckeyes grab their early 20-15 lead. But he was forced to the bench after committing a second foul.

"Terence got it going early, but then he had to spend some time on the bench," Matta said.

Wisconsin then outscored Ohio State 16-6 over the final 7-1/2 minutes to take a 31-26 halftime lead. Chambliss hit a pair of threes during this stretch, while UW's Michael Flowers had a tip-in at the halftime buzzer to give the Badgers their five-point advantage.

Over the last nine minutes of the half, Ohio State made just 2 of its last 14 shots from the floor. The Buckeyes had two stretches where they went 3-1/2 minutes without making a shot.

Wisconsin then opened the second half on a 10-3 run, keyed by five points from Wilkinson, to go up 41-29 with 17:30 left. UW led by as many as 13 points three different times in the second half, the last time coming on Kammron Taylor's layup to make it 55-42 with 8:05 left.

UW still led by 12 at 61-49 after Hanson made a layup with 5:28 left.

That's when Ohio State extended its defense and went to work. OSU scored eight straight points, four of those coming from Sullinger, as the Buckeyes narrowed the gap to 61-57 with 2:42 left.

"The last eight minutes of the game, we had great pressure on them," Matta said. "I think the pressure we had on them was good. We extended defensively to halfcourt and took them a little bit out of their flow."

But with the shot clock running out, Wilkinson executed a pick-and-roll to perfection. He fielded a pass and, with Dials sloughing into the lane, he drilled a three-pointer with 2:08 left to put the Badgers up 64-57.

OSU still had a glimmer of hope after Sylvester made a three-pointer from the left wing to cut it to 65-60 with 1:32 left. UW's Zach Morley then missed a shot and Dials was fouled with 55 seconds left. He made 1 of 2 free throws to trim the lead to 65-61. Morley was then fouled with 47 seconds left. He missed them both, but UW's Hanson got deep into the paint to dig out the second miss.

"I think Terence got clipped up and fell down," Matta said of the play. "It was one of those type of things and we couldn't come up with it."

Hanson was fouled immediately and his two free throws with 45 seconds left put UW up 67-61. Fuss-Cheatham then tried to execute a pick-and-roll to Dials, but Wilkinson tipped the pass and Taylor intercepted it. Taylor was fouled and made a pair of free throws with 36.2 seconds left to put UW up 69-61 and ice the game.

The Badgers haven't lost at Kohl Center since Dec. 4, 2002, when Wake Forest beat them 90-80.

OSU now goes outside the conference one last time with a visit to LSU Saturday (8 p.m., ESPN-Plus). The Tigers (6-5) host South Carolina in SEC play Wednesday night.

Click the link below for a photo esaay from the Badger Nation site on this game:

OSU-Wisconsin Photo Gallery

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