Buckeyes Come Up Short On Road

After a week to rest and prepare, Ohio State headed to Wisconsin hoping to keep pace near the top of the Big Ten. Instead, a national television audience saw the Buckeyes drop a tight road affair with the Badgers.

This time, Evan Turner could not convert.

Facing a Wisconsin team that is notoriously difficult to defeat on its home court, Ohio State found itself trailing by two points with one minute remaining. As they had so many times during a game where points were scarce, the Buckeyes turned to their go-to guy in Turner.

This time, the result was a critical turnover that allowed the Badgers to hold on down the stretch to the tune of a 55-50 victory.

The No. 24 Buckeyes (17-6, 7-5 Big Ten) found themselves needing to come from behind thanks to what has been a problem for nearly the entire season: offensive rebounding. After Turner corralled a missed basket by teammate Jon Diebler and converted the team's lone offensive rebound of the second half into a 48-47 lead, the Badgers (16-9, 7-6) turned the tables on the glass at the other end.

Wisconsin guard Jason Bohannon missed a three-point attempt, but the Badgers corralled yet another offensive rebound and maintained possession. After working the ball for a good shot, Joe Krabbenhoft got a good look from the left corner directly in front of his team's bench.

He buried the shot and put Wisconsin ahead by two, 50-48. They would not trail again.

The Buckeyes lost despite shooting 55.3 percent (21 of 38) from the floor during the contest. They were undone by 19 turnovers and a 32-22 rebounding deficit that was more lopsided on offense: 15-3.

"The two keys of the game were us taking care of the basketball and rebounding the basketball and we didn't get either job done," OSU head coach Thad Matta told the Ohio State Basketball Radio Network. "I thought that we played hard, but there's some things that are unexplainable."

Turner led the way with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Freshman guard William Buford had 11 points but just two came in the second half. He was hot early, scoring seven of OSU's first nine points.

Freshman center B.J. Mullens scored six first-half points on back-to-back-to-back possessions, but he then picked up a second foul and was forced to the bench. He was unable to regain that offensive spark and finished with seven points.

Wisconsin was able to bottle up two key members of the OSU offensive attack in Diebler and junior point guard Jeremie Simmons. Diebler did not get off a three-point attempt until the final moments of the game as he was bottled up by Bohannon, while Simmons saw limited action while giving way to junior P.J. Hill who responded with five points.

Simmons missed all three of his shot attempts and committed two turnovers, while Diebler had just two points. At the half, only Turner, Buford and Mullens had scored for the Buckeyes.

"Hats off to (the Badgers)," Matta said. "They did a tremendous job. You go on the road you shoot 55 percent, your opponent shoots 36 percent and you lose by five, that's hard to explain. You've got to point to the little things."

With points hard to come by, the Buckeyes headed into the half down one point to the Badgers at 24-23. Simply getting to that point would not be easy or pretty.

After Mullens threw down an alley-oop dunk from junior point guard P.J. Hill that made the score 15-13 in favor of the visitors, it would be more than seven minutes until the Buckeyes would score from the floor again.

When they did, however, a basket by Turner with exactly two minutes remaining in the half made it a one-point deficit at 20-19. Despite going more than 35 percent of the first half without an OSU field goal, the Badgers were only able to get the lead as high as four points during the drought – and doing so involved a little controversy.

With the score knotted at 15, Wisconsin's Kevin Gullikson pulled down an offensive rebound and scored. Away from the action and immediately after the basket, Turner was whistled for a foul that then gave possession back to the Badgers. After being awarded the ball underneath their own basket, Wisconsin's Marcus Landry knifed through the OSU defense and converted the inbounds pass into a quick basket that made it 19-15 in favor of Wisconsin.

Although the Buckeyes shot 52.6 percent from the floor in the first half, they only attempted 19 shots. Wisconsin, on the other hand, was 10 for 31 (32.3 percent) while eking out the lead.

The Badgers were able to do so by controlling the offensive glass and taking care of the basketball. Wisconsin pulled down 10 offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes, while just two of OSU's 12 total first-half boards came on offense. In addition, the Buckeyes committed 10 first-half turnovers.

The loss ends a four-game winning streak for the Buckeyes, who had not played in a week since defeating ranked foes Purdue and Minnesota during the week prior. Wisconsin, on the other hand, has now won four straight after suffering a six-game losing streak earlier this season.

No member of the OSU roster had played a game at Wisconsin's Kohl Center save for junior forward David Lighty, who has been out since mid-December with a foot injury. The last Buckeye victory at Wisconsin came on New Year's Eve, 2000, in a 53-51 victory. That game has since been vacated by the NCAA.

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