Call it a microcosm of the 2008-09 season, but the Badgers built themselves a seven –point lead with six-plus minutes left, using solid ball movement and finishing around the basket to have a firm grasp around the game's momentum.
The right on cue, the Badgers watched it all dissipate, with the assist going to Buckeye sophomore Evan Turner.
Turner scored a game-high 19 points and Wisconsin went the last six minutes, one second without scoring a field goal, both of which made the Badgers' Big Ten Tournament stay a short one, leaving with a 61-57 souvenir defeat at the hands of Ohio State.
"Turner made a lot of good plays," said head coach Bo Ryan, as UW falls to 1-3 vs. Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament. "He's that good and he helped create some things for the other guys. He proved why he's, I would easily say, the best player in the league because he gets things done and makes his team successful."
In a game that featured eight lead changes and seven ties, Wisconsin (19-12) once again had no answer for Turner. After the first-team All-Big Ten selection scored 23 points in the teams' only previous meeting in Madison, the Badgers couldn't make life any harder on Turner.
Scoring eight of his total in the final 6:26, it was Turner's twisting runner in the lane with 52 seconds left that effectively erased Wisconsin's lead, putting Ohio State (21-9) ahead for good and one step closer to the NCAA Tournament.
"He set himself in the first half to be successful in the second half by what he was doing," said OSU head coach Thad Matta of Turner. "He saw the rewards of that today."
Added senior Joe Krabbenhoft: "(Evan) did it down the stretch. He stepped up and led his team. They were down a couple and he just took control of the game, took control of the ball. We tried to make it tough for him and he made it look easy."
While Turner had a hand in the end result, Wisconsin was its own worse enemy in another line of long, painful coulda-woulda-shoulda games.
Not only did the Badgers fail to make a field goal in the waning minutes, Wisconsin made only three free-throws during the same time frame while the Buckeyes were 7-for-9 in the final five minutes, out scoring Wisconsin 14-3.
"We got some good (looks) and they weren't falling," junior guard Jason Bohannon said. "We just have to finish plays and make plays. They were making plays on the other end and we weren't countering in any way."
After scoring only nine points on 1-for-9 shooting in the team's only previous meeting, Hughes started off hot, scoring 10 points in the first half, but could only manage five after intermission. Bohannon was just the opposite, scoring 10 of his 13 in the final 20 minutes, but the Badgers' production from all areas was far from consistent.
Wisconsin finished the game 18-for-50 (36 percent) from the floor and UW's three guards (Bohannon, Hughes and Jordan Taylor) finished a combined 7-for-27.
The Buckeyes, the conference leader in field goal percentage, shot 50 percent (19-for-38).
"Today we put ourselves to make those plays and we just didn't finish," said Krabbenhoft, who finished with four points and 10 rebounds. "It wasn't one position, it was six minutes. We were capable and we didn't do it. We didn't get the job done."
After building a six-point advantage late in the first half, the momentum started to turn in the Buckeyes favor in the final 83 seconds on a series of unfortunate events for Wisconsin. Battling down in the low post, senior Marcus Landry (nine points) took a forearm shot to the neck, courtesy of sophomore center Dallas Lauderdale.
Instead of the offensive foul, Lauderdale was fouled driving to the basket and an irate Badger bench was issued their third technical foul of the season.
Ironically, the Badgers are 0-3 when the Wisconsin bench is issued a technical.
"I guess a bunch of guys on our bench and a bunch of fans of behind us yell at the official about Marcus getting forearmed," Ryan said about the technical. "I think even the police man sitting behind the bench said something."
The journey got even rockier when Buckeye freshman William Buford hit a three from the elbow with 1.2 seconds left, giving Ohio State a needed lift, and a 29-28 halftime lead, as they sprinted towards its locker room, a sign of things to come.
"Will's shot gave us a little jolt of energy," Matta said. "We weren't playing really well and had to weather a lot of storms and that excited the locker room."
After feeling fairly secure to one of the 34 at-large teams and make the NCAA tournament for an 11th-straight year, the Badgers are in the precarious situation of having to sweat out Selection Sunday, just hoping for a chance to maybe find the right formula to turn this mediocre season around.
"(It was a) hard fought battle and our guys accept the results because we can't change them," Ryan said. "It will be what it will be."