Buckeyes Blow 15-Point Lead, Fall in Madison
By Brandon Castel
Madison continues to be a town of horrors for top-ranked Ohio State teams.
Less than four months after the football Buckeyes lost their No. 1 ranking at Wisconsin, the basketball team succumbed to a similar fate Saturday as a decade of frustration at the Kohl Center continued.
After building a 15-point lead in the second half, the top-ranked Buckeyes (24-1, 11-1 Big Ten) saw their undefeated season come tumbling down in Madison with a 71-67 loss to the Badgers (19-5, 9-4).
Star freshman Jared Sullinger hit a fade-away three from the corner to make it a three-point game with three seconds to play, but Jon Leuer hit the front end of a one-and-one to give Wisconsin their first victory over a No. 1-ranked team since 1962.
Junior William Buford scorched the Badgers for 21 points, including 10 in the second half, but the Buckeyes went ice-cold at the worst time and Wisconsin couldn’t miss from behind the arc down the stretch.
"They had some of those shots that were half way down and came out," observed Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan.
"That helped build our momentum."
Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor exploded for 21 points in a 13-minute span as the Badgers used a 17-2 run to tie the game at 49-all with less than eight minutes to play.
Freshman Aaron Craft put the Buckeyes back on top with a pull-up jumper and David Lighty extended Ohio State’s lead to 53-49 with a pair of free throws. Taylor responded with a three at the other end and Mike Bruesewitz tied the game at 55 on a wide-open three from the corner.
The Badgers started to pull away at the 5:30 mark when Taylor stroked a three with Craft in his face to give Wisconsin a 60-55 lead. Taylor missed a three in the final minutes that would have put the game away, and Sullinger made a pair of free throws to make it a 65-63 game with 59 seconds to play.
"I don't know what we could have done that would have made a lot of difference," said OSU Head Coach Thad Matta of Wisconsin's three point shooting.
"We tried everything we had, in switching rotations and switching matchps, and taking guys out of the help position and rotating them, and they were (still) going in."
Ohio State needed one stop at the defensive end, but an uunlikely hero stepped up when Bruesewitz pump-faked Lighty before sinking a three from the top of the arc to give the Badgers a 68-63 lead with 24 seconds to play.
Bruesewitz finished with 12 points off the bench, while Taylor led all scorers with 27 points. Leuer finished with 12 points and Josh Gasser added 11 as Wisconsin went 12-of-24 from behind the arc.
"Coming into the game, we said that if somebody was going to beat us, we wanted it to be Bruesewitz," said OSU Matta. "He was probably their fourth option."
The Buckeyes were just 3-of-9 from long-range, including the fall-away three by Sullinger. He finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, but Buford was the only other Buckeye in double-figures.
Thad Matta’s group became the final team to lose this season after starting the year 24-0. They have six games left before the start of the Big Ten Tournament, including Wednesday’s game against Michigan State in Columbus.
"When the season began, we didn't set the goal of being undefeated," said Matta. "We set the goal of winning the Big Ten championship, and we're still in contention for that."
Game Play by Play
Season Stats Year to Date
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