No. 20 Wisconsin cruises past No. 13 Ohio St.
Final: No. 20 Wisconsin 71, No. 13 Ohio State 49
After failing to get to the free throw line -- a first during Bo Ryan's tenure as head coach -- in an early-season loss to Ohio State, Wisconsin wanted to make sure it didn't suffer the same fate when the two teams met again at the Kohl Center.
The Badgers achieved that goal Sunday, making 6 of 10 free throws, but it turns out, Wisconsin didn't need to get to the line.
In perhaps their most dominant performance of the season, the Badgers shot a season-high 53 percent (29 of 55) from the field and made 7 of 19 3-pointers -- including three each by Ben Brust and Sam Dekker -- in a 71-49 dismantling of No. 13 Ohio State.
"They didn't change their intensity on defense," said Ryan, whose team was trying to get back on track after losing in overtime at Minnesota earlier in the week. "The key for us, (we) never took a step backwards defensively or on the glass knowing the shots would start falling down ... It just so happened it was today. We didn't change anything. I'd like to say we did, like we found something."
Jared Berggren and Brust led Wisconsin (18-8, 9-4 Big Ten) with 15 points each and combined for 19 rebounds with Berggren adding four blocked shots. Traevon Jackson added 10 points for the Badgers, who have won four of their last five.
With starter Ryan Evans fighting off an illness, the freshman Dekker saw extended minutes and scored 13 points and, most importantly to the Badgers, had zero turnovers. Evans still played 24 minutes and finished with nine points and five rebounds, hitting four of seven shots.
"We just knocked down shots," said Badgers forward Mike Bruesewitz, who added seven points. "Ben knocked down a couple, I got some, Ryan got some. It was kind of a landslide effect. Once a couple of people knocked down shots, it seemed liked everybody was."
Wisconsin took control early and never let up, breaking a 6-6 first-half tie with an 18-0 run that gave Wisconsin a 24-6 lead after George Marshall's dunk at the 9:20 mark. During that stretch, Ohio State (18-7, 8-5) missed 14 straight shots finally getting one when Deshaun Thomas scored on a layup with 8:58 left in the half.
"We had some point-blank layups that didn't go in," said Ohio State head coach Thad Motta. "It's hard to get great shots against Wisconsin but I saw the panic more on the defensive end. We shut down defensively more than we did on the offensive end."
Thomas finished with 18 points, by far the most for anyone on the Ohio State roster. The Buckeyes' leading scorer, averaging 20.2 points per game, went 8 of 17 from the field and added six rebounds. Aside from Sam Thompson, who finished with eight points, none of his teammates scored more than six.
"We walked off the practice floor in Columbus and felt like we had two great preps coming in," Motta said. "We were specific with what we wanted to do."
By the break, Ohio State was down 17 after shooting just 10 of 31 from the field and missing all six 3-point attempts. The Buckeyes shot slightly better in the second half to finish the game at 36.8 percent (21 of 57), but never got closer than 14 and fell behind by 26 with 3 minutes to play.
With the victory, the Badgers pulled a game ahead of Ohio State and stayed even with No. 4 Michigan -- a 79-71 winner over Penn State Sunday -- for second place in the Big Ten Conference, two games behind league-leading Indiana and Michigan State in the loss column.
Notes: Wisconsin has played nine ranked teams this season -- seven of them in Big Ten play -- and is 5-4 in those games, tied with No. 1 Indiana for most victories vs. top 25 teams this season ... Ohio State had won four of the last six meetings with Wisconsin but have lost nine of the last 10 at the Kohl Center.
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