Buckeyes Earn Improbable Win in Madison
By Rob Ogden
Nothing makes sense in the Big Ten anymore.
Days after losing at home to a team Thad Matta had never lost to, the Buckeyes went on the road to Wisconsin, where Matta is 1-8 as Ohio State's coach, and pulled out a 59-58 win.
LaQuinton Ross led the Buckeyes (17-5, 4-5 Big Ten) with 13 points, and Amedeo Della Valle added 11 off the bench.
It was the bench that kept Ohio State in the game in the first half, as it outscored the starters 21-8 at halftime, when the Buckeyes trailed the Badgers 33-29.
For the first time all season, Matta decided to shuffle the starting lineup, replacing junior guard Shannon Scott with junior forward Sam Thompson. Matta said it was Scott who came to him and asked for the switch.
The move had mixed results. Scott, who finished with 9 points, had his best offensive output since the Jan. 7 overtime loss at Michigan State.
He was 4-for-10 from the floor and 1-for-1 from 3-point range.
Thompson, however, managed just 2 points on 1-of-3 shooting.
Center Trey McDonald had 6 first-half points while Amir Williams struggled to get going.
The Badgers (17-5, 4-5) got off to a hot start, and didn't miss a shot in the first seven minutes of the game. But they quickly cooled off as the end of the half neared, allowing the Buckeyes to pull within four after trailing by as many as eight.
Wisconsin started the game 6-for-7 from the floor but connected on only 3 of its final 13 attempts in the first half.
A similar cold stretch plagued the Badgers at the end of the game. They went without a field goal for the final 6:34.
With less than nine minutes to play, Wisconsin took a 51-44 lead on a jumper by Toledo-native Nigel Hayes. The freshman, who got only a late offer from the Buckeyes, finished with a game-high 17 points.
But from that point on, the Buckeyes outscored the Badgers 15-7. Wisconsin finished 1-of-8 from the floor.
Senior guard Aaron Craft, who was scoreless until the 3:57 mark of the second half, scored seven-consecutive points for the Buckeyes to keep them close.
For the second-consecutive game, Craft was tasked with defending a potential game-winning shot.
Wednesday against Penn State, the Nittany Lions' D.J. Newbill hit the game-winner over Craft with 1.9 seconds remaining in overtime.
After Williams hit one of two free-throw attempts to give the Buckeyes a 59-57 lead, Columbus-native Traevon Jackson connected on one of two on the other end to pull the Badgers within one.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. was called for traveling after a missed layup attempt, and Wisconsin was given possession with eight seconds to play.
Guarded by Craft, Jackson dished the ball to Sam Dekker, whose last-second 3 clanked off the iron.
The Buckeyes finished with a 26-12 advantage in the paint, an area in which they struggled during their four-game losing streak.
Ohio State shot 55.6 percent from 3 while holding Wisconsin to just 3-for-17 from behind the arc.
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