Freshmen Flux

On Ohio State's senior day, the Buckeye freshmen - Mike Conley and Greg Oden - steal the show and the Big Ten title away from Wisconsin.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Even though it was Senior Day at Value City Arena Sunday, the freshmen stole the show.

Buckeyes senior forward Ron Lewis had a game-high 13 points in Ohio State's 49-48 win over Wisconsin, but freshmen Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr. were the ones who changed the outcome of the game.

Conley knocked down the go-ahead tear-drop floater in the lane with 4.3 seconds remaining and Oden provided stellar post play, blocking four shots and forcing the Badgers into shooting 35.1 percent from the floor.

"Blocked shots are one statistic," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "The other statistic is shooting percentage with a guy like [Oden]."

Another statistic is free throws.

Wisconsin got to the line only five times in Sunday's loss. Recently, the Badgers have shot a lesser amount of free throws than normal – heading to the line 12 times against Michigan State and 15 times against Penn State, both season lows at the time.

However, whatever the problem was in the two previous games wasn't the case Sunday.

The reason was actually quite simple.

"This one was mainly because of Oden," said Ryan of Wisconsin's season-low free throw attempts. "He was the factor."

But it wasn't just Ohio State's freshmen who shined Sunday. While Wisconsin may have lost, the Badgers' freshmen stepped up in arguably the biggest game of their young careers.

Wisconsin's rookie guards Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes came off the bench and provided a much-needed spark.

"It just shows what they're going to mean down the road," said Ryan of the freshmen's play. "They were very poised [and] made good decisions … I thought those guys played extremely well."

As UW senior guard Kammron Taylor struggling in the first half, Bohannon and Hughes were the ones looked like the four-year players.

Ohio State stretched its lead out to as many as six points two minutes before halftime, but the Wisconsin's freshmen helped the Badgers pull within two points.

With six seconds remaining in the first half, Hughes pushed the ball down the court and found Bohannon on a baseline cut for a reverse lay-up right before the buzzer sounded.

"They were poised and they were comfortable on the court," said UW senior forward Alando Tucker of his freshmen teammates. "That shows a lot about their character to be that comfortable in this environment.

"Jason hit some big shots, Trevon played great defense and made some key passes," Tucker added. "Their minutes are going to increase after this."

Hughes and Bohannon picked up where they left off after halftime.

Wisconsin's first score of the second half came off a Hughes steal and dish to Krabbenhoft, and Hughes would later find Bohannon for a 3-pointer. Bohannon knocked down two more 3-pointers in half, both to give Wisconsin the lead. He also rushed down the court and hit another 3-pointer after Conley's go-ahead bucket that was called off as Ryan had called a time-out.

Bohannon finished with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and Hughes recorded an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3-to-1. Conversely, Wisconsin's seniors – Jason Chappell, Kammron Taylor and Alando Tucker – combined to shoot 29 percent in the game.

Wisconsin hosts its own Senior Day Saturday against Michigan State and after a disappointing week that included the Badgers' first back-to-back losses on the season, Tucker hopes it will be the start of something special because he knows the team is looking to him to bounce back.

"The guys are going to look to me and [Taylor], especially in preparing for Michigan State," Tucker said. "If we're hanging our heads, then that's going to trickle down the rest of the line. I can't let the team see me moaning and groaning or pouting because we still have a long run to go."

Used with permission from the Badger Herald

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