COLUMBUS - Ohio State was looking for a signature victory. Sunday afternoon, not only did they get the win they were looking for, they walked out with a Big Ten Championship trophy to boot.
The Buckeyes (26-3, 14-1 Big Ten) claimed their second consecutive Big Ten Championship with a hard-fought 49-48 win against Wisconsin (26-4, 12-3 Big Ten) Sunday in Columbus.
It was a physical game for both teams, who scrapped, clawed and battled against one another all afternoon. But a Ron Lewis blocked shot of a driving Kammron Taylor attempt caromed out of bounds as the final buzzer sounded, preserving Ohio State's first victory over a current ranked team this season.
Earlier this season, Ohio State fell in road games against North Carolina, Florida and Wisconsin. However, their foruth time was apparently a charm as they extended their winning streak to 13 games and homecourt win streak to 25 games.
Ohio State trailed Wisconsin 48-47 with 16.1 seconds remaining. Following a timeout called by head coach Thad Matta, the Buckeyes got the ball inbounds to point guard Mike Conley.
After Conley passed off the ball to the top of the key into the hands of senior Ivan Harris, who poured in 13 points, Harris returned the pass back to Conley. The freshman drove the lane and threw up an off-balanced runner that fell through the hoop after rattling around the rim.
Wisconsin called a timeout with 3.9 seconds left. After problems getting the ball in, the Badgers were forced to call a second timeout. When they did get the ball down the court, Taylor's runner attempt was deflected by Lewis and Ohio State fans rushed the floor celebrating victory.
The game had some historical perspective as it was the first ever meeting between two teams both ranked No. 1 in the AP and Coaches' polls respectively. It was also the first time in the history of the Big Ten that two conference teams have faced one another ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively.
On senior day, Lewis helped his fellow teammate Harris by scoring 5 points. However, it was Conley's 11 points and four assists, along with the game-winning shot, that propelled the Buckeyes to a likely No. 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament as well as the Big Ten crown.
Despite the physical play, Greg Oden managed to muscle up for 11 points and five rebounds. He also blocked four shots. The bigger story was Ohio State limiting the Big Ten's leading scorer Alando Tucker to 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting - eight points below his season average.
While Taylor added 10 points for the Badgers, it was the play of Jason Bohannon off the bench that snapped a long scoring drought for Wisconsin. The freshman guard hit 3-of-3 from three-point range for 11 second-half points to rally the Badgers, who trailed 34-29 with 12 minutes left in the game.
Wisconsin, who has lost two straight road games this week, hopes to bounce back with a win in Madison in their regular season finale against Michigan State, who handed the Badgers a loss on Tuesday. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, travel to Ann Arbor Saturday for their last game of the regular season against rival Michigan.