Buckeyes Outlast Badgers to Claim Big Ten Tournament Title
By John Porentas
It wasn't often pretty, but the Ohio State Buckeyes (26-7) did what they had to do to claim the Big Ten Tournament championship with a 50-43 win over a tough bunch of Wisconsin Badgers (23-11).
The matchup featured two teams that play great defense, and two teams that were playing their third game in three days. The combination of tired legs and great defense led to shooting woes from long range for both teams. Ohio State connected on just 1 of 16 attempts from three point range (6.3 percent). Wisconsin wasn't quite as bad, hitting 3-18 from long range (16.7 percent).
"I didn't expect either team to shoot well because of the fatigue factor," said OSU Head Coach Thad Matta.
With the long range shot not a real factor the game settled into one of who could be tougher than who. Each team had its moments.
Wisconsin landed the first haymaker when they put together a 14-0 run to erase a seven point Buckeye lead and turn it into a seven point bulge for the Badgers at 20-13 with 7:29 remaining in the first half. Wisconsin was on the verge of landing a knockout punch when Ryan Evans connected on a jumper to put the Badgers up nine at 24-15 with 3:20 remaining in the half.
The Buckeyes were staggered, but got their wind back to score the final eight points of the half and reduce Wisconsin's lead to just one at 24-23.
The second half was a slugfest. It featured six ties and seven lead changes. Neither team led by more than two until there was just 4:31 remaking and OSU opened a four point lead, and then finally a six point lead with 2:41 remaining. That proved to be the final margin of victory as the Badgers were not able to gain any ground over the last 2:41.
Deshaun Thomas led all scorers with 17 points for OSU. Traevon Jackson tallied 10 for the Badgers. There were no other double-figure scorers in the game.
The tournament title is OSU's third in the last four years and fourth overall, most of any Big Ten school.
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