The performance Wisconsin put together on offense in the second half against Maryland was nowhere to be found against Ohio State, specifically in the paint. After pounding the ball inside against Maryland, UW’s interior presence was nonexistent against Ohio State with only 18 points in the paint.
Ohio State successfully took Ethan Happ out of the game, holding him to four points on 2-for-5 shooting. The success of Ohio State’s interior defense was so good that they held Happ scoreless in the first half (one attempt in six minutes) and he didn’t make his first field goal until the 18:22 mark of the second half. The last time Happ went scoreless in the first half was in the win at Marquette.
Generating quality looks around the rim was an issue, but at the same time Wisconsin couldn’t generate second-chance opportunities for themselves either. Entering the game against Ohio State, Wisconsin ranked second in offensive rebounds per game over conference play at 13, but the Buckeyes held Wisconsin to eight offensive rebounds. The way Wisconsin shot the ball (43.9 percent for the game), the Badgers could only manage nine second-chance points.
With Happ taken out of the game and Nigel Hayes also struggling on offense (seven points on 2-for-6 shooting), Bronson Koenig was the only viable option for Wisconsin’s offense, as he scored a game-high 27 points. Thanks to Ohio State’s strong interior defense, Wisconsin attempted 30 of its 57 field goals from three.
Koenig was able to generate a rhythm from 3-point range, finishing the game 5-for-9 from distance. Vitto Brown, who hasn’t hit a three since the loss to Northwestern, went 3-for-5 and finished the game with nine points. D'Mitrik Trice (4-for-6) and Brevin Pritzl (1-for-5) were the only two other Badgers to connect on a 3-pointer and finished the game with 14 and five points, respectively. Overall Wisconsin shot 13-for-30 (43.3 percent) from three.
Ohio State was able to take Wisconsin out of its offensive game, but Wisconsin did do well of committing only seven turnovers, marking the sixth time this year in Big Ten play the Badgers committed single-digit turnovers. C.J. Jackson was responsible for all four of Ohio State’s steals, as the Buckeyes were able to cash Wisconsin’s mistakes into nine points.
A solid defense all season, the Badgers turned in one of their worst performances of Big Ten play. The Buckeyes were able to generate any shot they wanted against Wisconsin’s defense, moving the ball effectively to finish the game with 12 assists on 25 made field goals.
At times Wisconsin was able to play tough defense and challenge Ohio State’s shots but the offensive rhythm the Badgers allowed the Buckeyes to establish proved futile. Finishing the game 25-for-50 (50 percent) from the field, Ohio State was able to have success inside and allow them to create spacing and open looks from 3-point range. Ohio State shot 10-for-16 (62.5 percent) from three, way above the 35.7 percent they were shooting from three over Big Ten play entering the game.
The success on the court wasn’t limited to one player either, as four players for Ohio State notched double figures. Jackson led Ohio State with a career-high 18 points, JaQuan Lyle had 17 off the bench, Jae’Sean Tate finished with 15 points and Marc Loving had 10 points, as the four combined to shoot 18-for-38 (47.3 percent) from the field.
In particular Tate’s play allowed Ohio State to build a 13-point halftime lead, finishing the first half with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds. Tate consistently found a way to register offensive rebounds and keep possessions alive in the first half, as he was responsible for five of Ohio State’s 10 offensive rebounds. He finished the game with 12 rebounds overall.
Wisconsin couldn’t afford to allow Tate the opportunity to crash the offensive glass and keep possessions alive if they wanted to climb back in the game. Although Tate was able to generate second chances, Wisconsin’s defense did its part to make sure they could only generate four second chance points. Due to how active Ohio State was attacking the glass they were able to win the rebounding battle, 38-25.
Once Ohio State established its rhythm on offense, the Badgers couldn’t take them out of it and struggled to create the turnovers needed in order to chip away at the lead. Wisconsin had forced teams into an average of 13.6 turnovers over conference play, but the Buckeyes only committed nine turnovers that turned into 11 UW points.
It appeared Wisconsin had rebounded from its shooting struggles the way they shot the basketball in the second half against Maryland. The issues in the first half still remain, as Wisconsin made nine or fewer field goal attempts in a first half for the fifth time in the last six games.
Like they did in the second half against the Terrapins, Wisconsin rebounded offensively to shoot 48.4 percent (16-for-33) from the field, but the Badgers never got Ohio State’s lead to fewer than nine points. Wisconsin had its chances to eat into the Buckeyes lead, but the Badgers either couldn’t string together enough successful stops on the defensive end or couldn’t come up with a made field goal.
After a made layup by Happ to cut Ohio State’s lead to 56-47 with 11:00 to go in the game, the fourth time UW was within nine, Pritzl missed a three in the corner on the Badgers ensuing offensive possession. The rebound was collected by Jackson and Ohio State turned the missed 3-pointer into a made 3-pointer by Lyle.
After the made three by Lyle, Trice missed a jump shot, Zak Showalter (0 points, 0-for-4) collected the offensive rebound and Koenig missed a 3-point attempt. Lyle was able to collect the missed three and Ohio State cashed in on a missed offensive opportunity by a Jackson 3-pointer to extend Ohio State’s lead to 62-47.
Wisconsin was able to get 26 points off the bench. Trice’s 14 points off the bench was the most by a reserve since Khalil Iverson scored 16 points against Marquette.
Game MVP: Bronson Koenig. Koenig tried to do his best to help keep Wisconsin in the game but he didn’t receive the help he needed to in order to keep chipping away at Ohio State’s lead. Koenig was balanced scoring the ball in each half, as he scored 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the first half and 13 points over the last 20 minutes on 5-for-8 shooting from the field. The 27 points by Koenig was a season-high and his eighth 20-point game this season. Outside of consistently knocking down the three, a welcomed sight for the stretch run, Koenig was able to create enough space for himself to knock down mid-range shots too. Overall Koenig finished with one block, one assist and one turnover.