Traevon Jackson mishandled the ball and was forced to pass to Sam Dekker for a desperation three that he missed long. Ball game, and more problems for a team that hasn't been able to solve their problems in a historic fall from grace.
The groove the offense was in in the second half made it look like Wisconsin (17-5, 4-5 Big Ten) would be able to hold on. However, missed opportunities down the stretch continued the woes at home and in conference play.
"There was opportunities," said senior Ben Brust. ‘We didn't take advantage of them and they got their chance. After we didn't, they took advantage to keep themselves around at the end of the game. Ultimately, we've got to do better."
After a 13-for-15 performance from the free throw line in the first half, it didn't look like free throws would sink the Badgers. Clicking from the get-go, Wisconsin's shooters didn't miss a shot in the first six minutes, going 4-for-4 from the field and 6-for-6 from the line. A game after shooting an unheard of 26.3 percent, Wisconsin shot 9-of-20 from the floor.
"I thought defensively we did a pretty good job," said Ryan. "We had them guessing at some things and taking some tough shots."
Holding a lead and capitalizing early wasn't the problem for the Badgers. It was getting the next score in the first half to put the game away early.
"There were definitely a couple times we were up six, seven with the ball and we just couldn't get that next bucket," guard Josh Gasser said. "We couldn't get that next stop. We had a few turnovers, a few missed open looks, and they made some plays that kept them in it."
Wisconsin had a plethora of multiple-possession leads in the first half that it failed to expand upon.
One of those times was after the Badgers took an 18-10 lead just eight minutes in. Wisconsin's largest lead – like many throughout the game – would not last, as Amedeo Della Valle got a 3-point play on the next Buckeyes' possession.
Wisconsin held a slight 33-29 lead in the half and got an offensive jolt off the bench from Nigel Hayes when they needed it.
"I saw Nigel out working, who's outworked everybody on the team," Ryan said of the Ohio State native who chose UW over Ohio State. "He does it without talking about it."
Hayes finished with 17 points, shooting 6-for-7 from the floor (5-of-5 in the second half), but Wisconsin stopped going to the freshman after taking a 51-44 lead and without Hayes, the offense struggled.
When he was on the floor, Wisconsin's possessions went through Hayes in the post, which opened up passing lanes for Wisconsin's shooters. For the second-straight game, Wisconsin could not capitalize on their attempts, hitting below 20 percent on 3-point field goals. Hayes returned from the bench a few minutes later and after his final jumper made the game 51-44, the freshman missed four free throws down the stretch. Hayes shot 5-for-11 from the free throw line on the game and is shooting 57.3 percent on the season.
"I missed more free throws than I made and that's a big problem," Hayes said. "I mean, getting there is not the problem. I just need to start making the shots so I can help the team."
"It's all mental," added Hayes, who has been told his body-language changes once he misses a free throw. "I have to take that upon myself and have a short-term memory (at the line)."
As a team, the Badgers finished 19-for-29 at the line for the game, costly in a one-point loss that could have turned their fortunes around.