Turning the Lights Out

No.10 Wisconsin looks to spoil a second consecutive senior night and prevent No.1 Ohio State the chance to clinch the outright conference championship in Columbus on Sunday. It would be a fitting script, seeing as the Badgers have been spoiling the performances of Jon Diebler and David Lighty for years.

MADISON – Jordan Taylor feels he would hit the jackpot if things never changed from one day to the next. His college tests would be the same, his routine would be the same and the opponent would be the same.

Too bad life doesn't work that way.

While the familiarity is there along with the comfort level having played a team already, No.10 Wisconsin doesn't expect anywhere near the same game as its 71-67 victory over No.1 Ohio State when the two teams close the regular season Sunday at Columbus' Value City Arena.

"It's always a new game and you have to just execute, which is the main thing," Taylor said. "You are only good as your next 40. It's a new game. None of the games we've played up to this point matter except for this game."

Ohio State – which rose to the top of the polls for the first time this week since losing to Wisconsin Feb. 12 – has one of most dynamic offenses in the country. After 30 games, Ohio State has four players, all starters, averaging double-figures offensively and when it comes to veteran Big Ten players, it's harder to pick two that have done more than senior Jon Diebler and David Lighty.

Diebler – the conference record holder in made 3-pointers (348) - had a career-high 30 points and set a school record with 10 3-pointers Tuesday night in an 82-61 rout of Penn State to clinch a share of the Big Ten title.

Lighty - the most veteran member of the Buckeyes' roster – has played alongside six NBA first round draft picks and is the third player in Ohio State history to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists.

Ask Taylor what that duo does well and he could double as a professor in a college seminar.

"I don't have enough time to tell you what they can do individually, and that's what makes them so good" Taylor said. "Diebler and Lighty are the leaders of that team and pretty much the heart and soul of that team, and that's just aside from what they do from the physical standpoint."

The two are definitely important pieces, but have been rendered next to invisible when they play the Badgers.

In the team's first meeting this season, Lighty (12.3 ppg) shot 2 of 4 from the floor, finishing with eight points, while Diebler (11.8 ppg) shot 2 of 5 from the floor and 1 of 3 from 3-point range, finishing with nine. The year before that, the duo combined to shoot 4 of 14 from the floor and 2 of 8 from the 3-point range in a 22-point UW home victory.

In six career meetings, Diebler has never scored in double figures, let alone made more than two 3-pointers. Lighty did lead Ohio State with a team-high 18 points in the Buckeyes' win in Columbus last year but like Diebler, has struggled to score consistently against Wisconsin.

"Diebler is a catch and shoot guy and if you can take that away, you can contain him better," said freshman Josh Gasser, who primary guarded Diebler in the team's first meeting but did switch to guard Lighty at times. "Lighty likes to get to the rim and pull up, so you have to take that away the best you can like we did here."

Talk to the guards responsible and they'll say the key to stopping those two is the key to stopping anyone in college basketball: don't give them anything easy, take them out of rhythm and stick to playing good fundamental basketball the program is known for. It also, admits Gasser, takes a little bit of luck.

While fans remember Taylor scoring 18 points during the 30-8 run that erased a 15-point deficit, the Buckeyes were shooting over 81.1 percent in the second half when that run started, but had five shots rattle out, including an open 3-pointer from Diebler.

"That's part of the game," Gasser said. "They also had a lot of shots that were a little tougher than they made. It goes both ways."

For the eighth time in four years, Wisconsin hopes stopping Ohio State's two senior leaders will continue, putting a finishing touch on what has been a career of shutdowns.

"They're playing for an outright Big Ten title, its senior night, Diebler and Lighty last game there; it's going to be a crazy atmosphere," Taylor said. "We just have to work together as a team to try and get this win."


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