Ohio State beats Wisconsin for Big Ten title
Deshaun Thomas scored 17 points as Ohio State earned its third Big Ten tournament championship in four years with a 50-43 victory over Wisconsin on Sunday at the United Center.
The No. 10 Buckeyes (26-7) also earned an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, although there never a doubt that either team would go.
Traevon Jackson paced the No. 22 Badgers (23-11) with 10 points.
With the game deadlocked at 41-41 — the sixth second-half tie — Ohio State asserted control as guard Aaron Craft scored on a coast-to-coast fast-break layup and LaQuinton Ross added a pair of driving layups.
Ross’ second basket, with 2:27 left in regulation, gave the Buckeyes a 47-41 lead, their biggest margin since early in the first half.
Thomas, meanwhile was 3-for-4 on free throws in the final 44 seconds to maintain the Ohio State margin.
The Buckeyes jumped to an early first-half lead as Craft and Sam Thompson had two buckets apiece to open a 13-6 advantage before eight minutes had elapsed. Wisconsin was just 3-for-10 (30-percent) in the same span.
But the Badgers and freshman Frank Kaminsky suddenly found their scoring touch with 14 unanswered points.
Kaminsky hit a jumper at the 9:20 mark, added a steal and feed to Ryan Evans for a successful layup and then hit a 3-pointer as Wisconsin opened a 20-13 lead.
Ohio State’s Thompson broke the run with a jumper, but the Badgers renewed their surge on the way to a 24-15 advantage on Evans’ hook shot with 3:20 left.
The Buckeyes then proceeded to close the gap as Thomas hit three buckets in a span of 2:39 span, leaving the Buckeyes down just 24-23 at halftime.
Thomas had eight first-half points while Thompson added six. Kaminsky paced the Badgers with five.
Ohio State grabbed a short-lived 25-24 lead on Amir Williams’ first basket of the game just 27 seconds into the second half. But Mike Bruesewitz replied with a 3-pointer to put Wisconsin back on top.
From there the game settled into a back-and-forth pattern with the teams trading leads ties until Ohio State started to assert control with 5:30 to play.
The game was the last to be completed on Selection Sunday, with the NCAA tournament field announced shortly after it ended.
NOTES: Sunday’s Big Ten contenders have made a combined 14 title game appearances. Ohio State leads with nine overall while Wisconsin has made five … The Badgers claimed championships in 2004 and 2008 while the Buckeyes won in 2007, 2010 and 2011 … It’s been a milestone tourney for Craft, who topped 900 career points with 20 on Saturday against Michigan State and 500 assists with eight versus Nebraska last Friday … The teams split two regular season meetings. The Buckeyes won 58-49 at home on Jan. 29 while the Badgers were victorious on Feb. 17 at Madison’s Kohl Center … Sunday’s meeting was the 151st all-time in the series. Ohio State leads 85-67 … Every Big Ten session sold out as the tournament drew a collective 124,543 fans to the United Center … The 2014 finals are back in Indianapolis, and Chicago hosts again in 2015.