Ohio State Deals Wisconsin Worst Loss of the Season
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — With Purdue’s loss at Iowa Saturday, Ohio State had already wrapped up the regular season Big Ten championship, but the celebration wouldn’t have felt the same without a win over Wisconsin in the season finale.
It was only fitting then that senior John Diebler led the Buckeyes (29-2, 16-2 Big Ten) to a 93-65 blowout victory over the Badgers (23-7, 13-5) on Senior Day in Columbus.
After dropping a school-record 10 threes at Penn State Tuesday night, Diebler stayed red-hot from behind the arc Sunday. He knocked down seven of his eight tries from behind the arc, including a dagger at the end of the first half.
“I apologize for missing one. That was my bad,” Diebler said tongue-in-cheek after scoring 27 points.
The senior out of Upper Sandusky was the only Buckeye to misfire on a three all game. Ohio State went 14-of-15 from behind the arc against the Badgers, setting a new Division I record for threes.
“14 of 15, I don’t think people do that very often,” Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan said.
“I thought we shot the ball well against them at our place, but what they did today is just unheard of.”
The Badgers were 12-of-24 from long-distance in the first meeting between these two teams. In doing so they rallied from a 47-32 deficit to hand the Buckeyes their first loss of the season back in February.
That happened to be the exact score at halftime of Sunday’s game after Diebler nailed a 25-foot three at the buzzer with Josh Gasser right in his face. It didn’t seem to matter where he was on the court or who was guarding him, Diebler couldn’t miss from long-range for the second game in a row.
“I don’t know. I’m just getting a little bit of daylight. They’re doing a good job of screening and getting me the ball,” said Diebler, who has connected on 17 of his last 20 threes since missing his final five outside shots against Indiana.
“I don’t know how to explain it, just like at Penn State.”
Although Diebler was certainly the hero of Sunday’s game, it was freshman Jared Sullinger who got things going early on for the Buckeyes. After scoring a combined 15 points over his last two games, Sullinger went for 22 points and eight rebounds against Wisconsin, a team he said he wanted to beat by 50 points.
“If we could, we would. Wisconsin’s a good team. That first loss I didn’t take too lightly,” he said.
“I wanted to win, and I wanted to win big.”
Diebler’s three put the Buckeyes up by 15 at the half, but they had not forgotten the way they coughed up a 15-point lead in the second half at Wisconsin. Point guard Jordan Taylor exploded for 27 points in that game, knocking down three after three in the second half.
Aaron Craft and the Buckeyes had a different plan for defending Taylor this time around, and held one of the Big Ten’s most explosive scorers to just eight points on 2-of-9 shooting.
“Aaron did a tremendous job and he studied so much film,” Matta said of his freshman.
“The other thing that people won’t notice is the job all the other guys did helping Aaron against Jordan.”
Sullinger and Dallas Lauderdale did a much better job hedging on ball screens and the Buckeyes took away much of what Wisconsin wanted to do with Taylor. The Badgers did get 17 points from Gasser, along with 16 from Jon Leuer and 10 from Keaton Nankivil, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Ohio State’s hot outside shooting.
Along with the 27 from Diebler and 22 from Sullinger, the Buckeyes also got 18 points from William Buford and 13 from fifth-year senior David Lighty, who dropped down and kissed the “Block O” logo at center court before exiting the game for the final time at Value City Arena.
“It was just one final farewell to this place,” said Lighty, who came in with Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. back in 2006.
“From the fireworks in the beginning to the streamers at the end, it was a great way to go out, being outright (champions) in the Big Ten.”
The top-seeded Buckeyes will play again on Friday at noon when they take on the winner of the No. 8 vs. 9 game between Northwestern and Minnesota. Should they win, they would play again on Saturday at 1:40 p.m. against the winner of the No. 4 vs. 5 game between Michigan and Illinois.
Game Play by Play
Season Stats Year to Date
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