Light-ed Up

With Ohio State junior standout Evan Turner on the bench, junior David Lighty carried the torch, helping build a 12-point halftime lead that No.13 Wisconsin could never erase, as the Badgers fall in Columbus, 60-51, to the Buckeyes at Value City Arena.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The script appeared to be playing out perfectly for the University of Wisconsin.

In the first contest this season between the two schools, Ohio State's offense suffered with its best player – Evan Turner – on the bench in street clothes due to a couple of fractured vertebrae.

Less than three weeks later, Turner was on the bench again, this time with two fouls and six points in the first 5 minutes, 44 seconds. Unlike the meeting in Madison, the Buckeyes didn't miss him. The Badgers didn't either, or the first-half sucker punch would have hurt much worse.

Junior guard David Lighty picked up the slack with Turner out, scoring 12 of his team-high 18 points in the first half to help Ohio State not only tread water, but pull away from No.13 Wisconsin in a 60-51 Saturday night in front of 18,402 at Value City Arena.

The look on the faces of the Badgers (14-4, 4-2 Big Ten) as they slowly jogged to the locker room said it all. They looked like a team that got only two points from their front court, watched the Buckeyes (13-5, 3-3) shoot 59.1 percent (13-of-22) with Turner spending most of it as a spectator and registered one assist to nine turnovers.

"I felt like we were fighting an uphill battle right out of the gate," said junior Keaton Nankivil (nine points). "It's hard to do that, especially on the road. It's never fun to play a game when you never feel like you have full control of any of it."

After committing only five turnovers in its Wednesday win over Northwestern, the Badgers finished with a 7-to-14 assist to turnover ratio, leading to 11 Ohio State points.

"A lot of those turnovers were things that were unforced," said senior Jason Bohannon (10 points). "There were a couple that they have forced us into but a lot of them were done by ourselves. It's just us not coming ready to play."

Wisconsin took its biggest lead as soon as Turner headed to the bench, getting a driving lay-up from Jordan Taylor to make it 12-9. Making his second straight start, the lay-up was one of the few bright spots of Taylor's evening, as the sophomore shot 3-of-11 from the floor.

Wisconsin continued to stick with the Buckeyes late into the first half, trailing 23-20 with five minutes left, but could not account for Lighty. After shooting just 2-of-7 in the team's first meeting, Lighty scored nine points in the final 4:09 of the first half that give Ohio State the lift it needed with Turner on the bench.

"We should have (taken) advantage," said senior Trevon Hughes, who led the Badgers with 18 points. "We should have been attacking, but they had a game play and it worked well. We just weren't as aggressive attacking the basket as we were in the second half, and our shot wasn't falling as a group."

Other than the guards, Hughes was pretty much spot in. Hughes, Bohannon and Taylor (6 points) accounted for 20 of UW's 22 first-half points and finished the game scoring 57 percent of the Badgers' final total (36 points).

"It's always frustrating when stats are skewed to the backcourt because we know it's a team game," Nankivil said. "When you feel like you are not contributing, it doesn't really help anybody."

UW started the half on an 8-0 run to chip the lead down to 34-30, even drawing a third personal fouls on Buford, Diebler, Lighty and Turner in the half's first 10 minutes. Even with Matta leaving the guys in, the Badgers never could draw a fourth foul, something that could have altered the course of the game.

"We came out and had a good little run," Bohannon said. "We just didn't hit some shots, didn't make some plays and let them get back into what they were doing offensively. We gave them some easy baskets inside and anytime you are giving them easy baskets inside, it's really tough to come back."

The result was Ohio State quickly bounced back, riding the coat tails of Turner and Lighty, who combined to score eight points on a 15-2 run that push the Ohio State lead to 49-34. Wisconsin never got closer than seven the rest of the way.

"We let one slip, we didn't come out aggressive in that first half," said senior guard Trevon Hughes, who led the Badgers with 18 points. "We tried to make it up in the second half but like a good team like that, especially with their good players back, they aren't going to take their foot off the throttle."

Between the first Ohio State-Wisconsin meetings and the second was a total 180 twist. The first time around, the Badgers didn't have to deal with Turner and his play-making ability. This time, the Buckeyes didn't have to deal with junior Jon Leuer creating problems in the paint.

"He's 6-foot-10, so not having him in the paint was helpful for us," said Lighty, as Ohio State has beaten back-to-back ranked teams after losing three of four. "He alters shots and things of that nature. He's a real good player. Not having 10-plus points and five-plus rebounds on the court is going to make them a different team."

With Leuer still sidelined indefinitely, Wisconsin was out muscled on points in the paint (22-16), allowed the Buckeyes to shoot 52.2 percent (24-of-46) and finish 27-27 in the rebounding battle.

"It's life in the Big Ten, especially on the road," UW coach Bo Ryan said. "You have to have those nights were every opportunity that you get you have to take advantage of, especially with the way they are playing now."

Wisconsin's comeback was further hindered by the fact that the Badgers got only two points, six rebounds, three turnovers and no assists from their bench and got to the foul just five times compared to 12 for the Buckeyes.

"The best way to make a comeback is with the clock stopped," Nankivil said. "Shooting five, the clock is never stopping when you are getting points."

After not traveling with the team Wednesday being one day removed from wrist surgery, Leuer sat on the bench in his warm-ups and could only watch his team being taken advantage of in the post. Still conservatively a month away from returning, the Badgers aren't planning on pointing to his absence as a ‘what if.'

"Never," Nankivil said. "You always have to play the hand you are dealt and right now, this is the hand we have. When he gets back, we'll be back at full strength. Until then, we're not going to make any excuses."


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