Buckeyes Hold Off No. 15 Wisconsin 77-67

Ohio State got 15 points from Terence Dials and 14 points each from Jamar Butler, Ron Lewis and Matt Sylvester in handing Wisconsin its first Big Ten loss of the season.

When Ohio State began the season 11-0, there was a lot of lip service that the Buckeyes could be a real contender in the Big Ten race for the first time since winning a share of the conference title in 2001-02.

But the 19th-ranked Buckeyes came into Wednesday's game against No. 15 Wisconsin still in search of a meaningful win against one of the conference front runners.

And the Buckeyes got that landmark win, handing Big Ten-leading Wisconsin its first conference loss of the season with a 77-67 decision before 16,127 at Value City Arena.

"The big thing for us was Wisconsin was 4-0," said OSU coach Thad Matta. "They were the only undefeated team in the Big Ten. That was tremendous motivation for us to knock off a team at the top right now."

OSU (13-2, 3-2) shrugged off the ill effects from Sunday's 62-59 double overtime loss to Michigan State. Terence Dials led OSU with 15 points and six rebounds.

"Every Big Ten game is important," said Dials, who was 7 of 10 from the floor. "It is especially important on your home court. We played extremely hard and got the win. Wisconsin is a great coached team. Our guys came out ready to play and got something done today."

Matt Sylvester, Jamar Butler and Ron Lewis each had 14 points for OSU. Sylvester was 6 of 9 from the floor and 2 of 3 from behind the three-point arc.

"We went into this game knowing we had to get this one," Sylvester said. "That's why it feels so good. When your backs are against the wall and you have to get it, and then you get it, it feels that much better."

The Buckeyes hit 53.8 percent of their shots (28 of 52), including 60.9 percent (14 of 23) in the second half.

Kammron Taylor and Alando Tucker each had 21 points to lead Wisconsin (14-3, 4-1). The Badgers managed just one field goal and four free throws in their final 12 possessions after cutting OSU's lead to 65-61 with 5:53 left.

"There were two or three (possessions) where it was still doable realistically," said UW coach Bo Ryan. "Once it got to eight and it was their ball, you need some help. But when you come into a ranked team's gym and are in that position and get it to six, it's doable. Our guys battled tonight."

The Badgers played without a pair of key reserves in Marcus Landry and Greg Stiemsma. Stiemsma is taking a temporary leave of absence from the team for personal medical reasons, while Landry was declared ineligible for the OSU game.

"Jason Chappell and Joe Krabbenhoft picked up those 27 minutes," Ryan said. "I thought they did a great job."

When asked when he discovered that Landry and Stiemsma would not make the trip to Columbus, Ryan did not respond. He was asked when or if he expected that duo to return.

"What you see on the floor will be our guys and they're working hard at it," Ryan said.

The teams played to a 31-31 tie in the first half. Taylor led the Badgers with 10 first-half points, while Sylvester had nine points and Dials scored eight in the first half.

Sylvester had all nine of those points in the first six minutes as the Buckeyes jumped out to a 15-7 lead. Dials also tallied six straight points for OSU as it built that lead.

"It was not about redemption," said Sylvester, who blamed himself in part for Sunday's loss to MSU. "I came out with a controlled anger. I was focused on the game tonight. This is just a good team win. It feels really good to get those guys."

Wisconsin answered with 11 unanswered points. Krabbenhoft, Taylor and Ray Nixon all hit three-point shots during this stretch as UW surged to an 18-15 lead with 11:51 left in the first half.

OSU regained the lead with six straight points as Lewis went coast-to-coast for a layup, Foster had a steal and a layup and Lewis scored off a baseline drive to put the Buckeyes up 21-18 with 10:06 left in the half.

Wisconsin moved ahead 31-27 with 2:14 left in the half as Tucker tallied off a rebound and Taylor went baseline right around a standing Sylvester for a layup. Matta called a timeout to stem the tide.

"The baseline drive forced my hand and we had to call timeout," Matta said. "We lost it a little bit and we just tried to get refocused."

Dials added, "He just said, ‘Go out and play defense, go out and play a little bit harder, play a little bit tougher.' That was the basic gist of what he said when he came into the huddle."

It worked as Foster scored on a layup with 2:00 left and Butler capped the half with a driving layup with two seconds left that had plenty of English on it to tie the game at 31-31.

"Jamar had a great drive to end the half and tie it up," Matta said.

Ohio State grabbed the lead early in the second half. Sylvester opened the half with a three-pointer before Dials' three-point play put the Buckeyes up 37-35 with 18:15 left in the game. A Butler three-pointer put OSU up 40-35 with 17:42 left.

The Buckeyes extended their lead to nine at 52-43 with 12:11 left after Ivan Harris and Butler splashed successive three-pointers. A Lewis three-point play put the lead at 59-50 with 9:11 left.

The Badgers got as close to four at 65-61 with 5:53 left after Tucker scored on an offensive rebound and Brian Butch hit a 14-foot jumper.

But OSU answered that surge with six straight points of its own. Foster made 1 of 2 free throws with 4:55 left. Foster then nailed a three-pointer off an inbounds play with 4:19 left. Dials then hit an 8-foot jumper after spinning to the baseline. That shot gave the Buckeyes a 71-61 lead with 3:33 left.

The three-pointer by Foster was huge. He struggled in the loss to MSU, scoring eight points on 3-of-13 shooting.

"That was thanks to Coach Matta," Foster said. "He believed in my shot. I just took my time. They haven't been falling for me, but I just have to keep shooting and maybe I'll be able to get it to go in."

Taylor made four straight free throws to cut the gap to 71-65 with 1:48 left. But Butler was fouled while dribbling out top with 1:33 left. He made 1 of 2 free throws to put OSU ahead 72-65.

Foster made 1 of 2 free throws with 46.6 seconds left and, after a UW miss, Butler made 1 of 2 with 35.5 seconds left to put OSU up 74-65. Tucker tallied on a layup for the Badgers with 31.2 seconds left. But Lewis made 3 of 4 at the line in final 28.7 seconds to ice it.

Other than that Tucker layup, the OSU defense held Wisconsin scoreless from the floor over the final 5:53 of the game. The defense helped OSU gloss over the fact it was just 7 of 15 at the foul line in that same stretch run.

"I give our guys credit," Matta said. "They got the stops when we needed them and when our free throws weren't falling."

Foster added, "It felt like there was a lid on the basket. I'm sure we'll come in tomorrow and shoot some free throws."

Butler added nine points and five rebounds for OSU. Ivan Harris hit a pair of three-pointers for six points, while Matt Terwilliger had three points and Sullinger scored two.

Game Notes

* Wisconsin had won the last five meetings with OSU, dating to the 58-50 win in the Big Ten tourney semis in 2003, and eight of the last 10 in the series.

* OSU is now 4-3 against UW in VCA.

* OSU is now 101-23 all-time in VCA, including 10-1 this year.

* OSU is now 33-13 under Matta, including a record of 25-2 at home.

* This was OSU's third game against a ranked team this season, following a loss at Indiana Jan. 7 and the loss to MSU on Sunday. OSU is now 3-6 against ranked teams under Matta. In his sixth year as a head coach, Matta is now 12-15 against ranked competition.

* OSU is 16-8 overall against ranked teams at VCA, including 16-5 against Big Ten ranked opponents.

* The Buckeyes will visit Penn State (10-5, 2-2) on Saturday. The Nittany Lions crushed Purdue 74-54 on Wednesday. OSU downed PSU 104-69 in the Big Ten opener on Jan. 5.

The game will start at noon and will be televised regionally by ESPN-Plus and also on ESPNU.

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