Wisconsin lost ugly on Thursday night in Columbus, 83-73 to Ohio State. The setback dropped the Badgers out of a tie for first place with Purdue in the race for the Big Ten regular-season title.
Facing an Ohio State team it crushed 89-66 earlier this season at the Kohl Center, the Badgers found themselves outgunned from the start. The Buckeyes opened the game on a 13-6 run and never trailed from there. Ethan Happ was scoreless in the first half, which ended with Ohio State holding a 44-31 lead.
The closest Wisconsin would get in the second half was nine points. The 83 points allowed was Wisconsin’s second most on the season, just behind the 84 surrendered to Marquette in a win.
Why Ohio State won
The Buckeyes outmuscled Wisconsin in the paint and shot lights-out from deep. This season’s Wisconsin team has seen much of its consistency come from strong play inside the perimeter, but it just wasn’t there Thursday.
Ohio State won key statistical battles in rebounding, 38-25, points in the paint, 22-18, and free throw attempts, 27-15. Add all that to the fact that the Buckeyes were 10-of-16 from 3-point range and you have the makings for a thorough beating.
List of #Badgers' woes: defense, rebounding, settling for threes…
— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) February 24, 2017
What it means
Wisconsin failed to keep pace with Purdue and fell to second place in the Big Ten. The Badgers now need to win out and have Purdue lose a game (Boilermakers finish with Michigan, Indiana and Northwestern) to get at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title. In the grand scheme of things, this will go down as the ugliest mark on Wisconsin’s NCAA Tournament resume.
Not having a fully healthy Bronson Koenig has hobbled Wisconsin recently. On Thursday, he was all the Badgers had. The senior put up a season-high 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting and set the Wisconsin career 3-pointer record along the way.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 24, 2017
Not much has gone well for the Buckeyes this season, but they can at least hang their hats on the fact they can full-stop Ethan Happ. With his 4 points Thursday, Happ has scored a combined 10 points in two games against Buckeyes. Against all other teams, he’s averaged 15.1. His two lowest-scoring games of the season are against the Buckeyes. One of life’s small mysteries.
Who was(n’t) there
Ohio State got its best win of the season and you can bet a packed house was on hand to witness it. Wait, never mind. Official attendance was announced as 11,505. Capacity at Value City Arena is 19,500.
When D'Mitrik Trice played here in the 2015 Division 1 state final, there were 10,664 in attendance. Might not reach that total tonight.
— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) February 24, 2017
Who is next
The Badgers will venture to East Lansing to face Michigan State on Sunday. The Spartans recently lost Eron Harris for the year to a knee injury, but they didn’t miss a beat in their first game without him, pasting Nebraska 88-72 on Thursday. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET on CBS.