The Badgers (18-7, 8-4 Big Ten) took over sole possession of second place in the conference with the win.
Junior forward Alando Tucker led the way for Wisconsin with 27 points and 16 rebounds. Brian Butch added 17 points, Ray Nixon had 13 – including 10 in the second half – and Kammron Taylor chipped in 12.
Wisconsin shot 50 percent from the floor (26-52) and 42.9 percent from 3-point range (6 of 14). The Badgers made clutch plays in the second half and proved why they are so tough to beat at the Kohl Center.
"No, they did," OSU coach Thad Matta told the OSU Basketball Radio Network. "They made tremendous plays. Credit them. We lost an element of toughness, especially down the stretch, both offensively and defensively. The rebounding. The balls hit us in the hands and not coming up with them. The movement on offense led to bad shots on offense. We just didn't have enough tonight to get it done in this environment."
Tucker, the leading scorer in the Big Ten (18.9 entering play), was just too much to handle on this night. The 6-5 slasher has excellent quickness and leaping ability.
"The first half I thought we did a pretty decent job because we forced their offense lower and it allowed us to crowd things," Matta said. "(Tucker) does a great job of moving without the ball and then when the shot goes up he's always in good rebounding position. He just got the best of us tonight."
Ohio State was whistled for 23 personal fouls, compared to 16 for Wisconsin. The Buckeyes had anything but a smooth substitution pattern.
"Well, it killed us," Matta said of the foul trouble. "We shoveled for the majority of the game. When you come in here, I mean this place, they lead the league in getting fouls called on the opponent this year. And we knew that coming in. We just weren't sharp enough not to foul."
In the first half, the teams went back and forth and neither side led by more than two points during the first nine minutes. A Ron Lewis 3-pointer gave OSU a 17-14 lead at the 10:06 mark.
Je'Kel Foster buried a three for the Buckeyes at the 8:08 mark, giving them a 22-16 advantage.
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan was whistled for a technical foul at the 7:19 mark for disputing a charging call on Tucker. Butler made both free throws and OSU took a 24-16 lead.
A short jumper from Dials pushed OSU's advantage to 26-16 at the 6:30 mark.
However, the Buckeye center then picked up his second foul at the 6:11 and was forced to sit out the remainder of the half.
A Sylvester 3-pointer gave OSU its largest lead of the half, 35-22, at the 2:23 mark.
Wisconsin was able to close the half on a 6-2 run, and Ohio State led 37-28 at halftime. Dials led all scorers with 12 points at the break.
The Buckeyes remained in front until the 7:26 mark of the second half when a Tucker free throw tied the score at 57-57.
Ohio State seemed to regain momentum when Butler drained a jumper at the 6:40 mark, giving OSU a 59-57 lead. Foster then recorded a steal and assist to Sylvester, who converted a three-point play for a 64-59 OSU lead at the 5:10 mark.
But the wheels fell off for Ohio State at that point. Wisconsin went on a 7-0 run to take its first lead (66-64) since the early stages of the first half.
Another long jumper from Butler tied the score at 66-66. But Nixon responded with a triple for the Badgers at the 2:25 mark, making the score 69-66.
Two Butler free throws from Butler cut the deficit to 69-68 with 2:10 left.
The dagger for Wisconsin might have been a 3-pointer from Butch at the 1:49 mark, which pushed the lead to 72-68. Tucker and Butch followed it up with a free throw apiece, for a commanding 74-68 lead with under 1:00 remaining. The Badgers were able to salt the game away from that point.
Dials was one of the few bright spots for OSU and seems to be playing his best ball of the year.
"I felt like we did a great job of getting Terence the ball," Matta said. "I thought he had a tremendous game and even had a couple that rolled out."
The Buckeyes – the leading 3-point shooting team in the Big Ten – were just 4 of 16 from long range on this night.
"They did a good job of taking away our threes with their length," Matta said. "But we helped them. We didn't move offensively and we didn't have the execution we needed."
The Buckeyes, now in third place in the Big Ten, have not lost two straight games this season.
"Well, that's what I told the guys," Matta said. "We've responded. This is our fourth loss of the season in 22 tries and this is time to see what we're made of. We're just trying to get these guys to understand that we've got a long ways to go."