COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a night where both teams were desperate for a win, Ohio State failed to come together until it was too late. The Buckeyes fell short in a 65-60 loss at home to Wisconsin on Thursday night.
Ohio State once again struggled to score in and around the rim early on, and outside of freshman Brice Sensabaugh, it couldn’t find its offense. The plague continued as the Buckeyes trailed by 10 through most of the second half but Ohio State began to crawl its way back into the game and make a comeback. It came close, but it ultimately couldn’t get it done in the end.
Ohio State got the stops it needed late in the game as Wisconsin was held scoreless for nearly seven minutes down the stretch. The Buckeyes overcame an 18 point deficit to get it to two but couldn’t pull through in the last two minutes.
Ohio State was down 10 with under six minutes to play with Sensabaugh fouled out. Felix Okpara hit a pair of free throws early in Ohio State’s 13-2 run to make it a six point game with under four to play. Suddenly it was a two possession game and Ohio State had the ball with 2:36 remaining but it committed two turnovers. Wisconsin missed two free throws and with 0:42 to play, Ohio State was down four. Sueing scored and picked up the foul but missed the free throw. Wisconsin was sent to the line hit two free throws and then another to ice the win.
Both teams followed similar season trajectories and started out top of the conference with Wisconsin opening the season 11-2 and Ohio State starting out 10-3 before falling into a pattern of losses.
Wisconsin lost six out of their last seven games before meeting Ohio State on Thursday night and had been shooting in the .300s the last three games. Ohio State had been the more efficient offense and the higher-scoring team, but it was the Badgers who rallied from the start in Columbus to get back in the win column.
Wisconsin started out on a quick 8-0 run that led to a timeout 1:36 into play, and it was Brice Sensabaugh who scored eight straight points, leading Ohio State on an 8-0 run to tie the game at the first media timeout.
Ohio State was down by as many as 15 in the first half and committed six critical turnovers in a few possessions that limited Ohio State’s ability to cut the lead down. Wisconsin went on a 12-2 lead through five minutes of play that put the Badgers up 15 at the under-4 media timeout in the first half of play. A fast break alley-oop dunk by Okpara on a pass from Likekele gave Ohio State some spark late in the first half to cut the lead to 10 but Wisconsin went on an 8-0 run to close the half with a 43-27 lead.
Ohio State found a bit of a spark and opened the second half on a 9-6 run and shot 58% through the first few minutes of the second half but couldn’t get enough stops to limit Wisconsin’s offense until it re-ignited the spark with a few minutes to play.
The Badgers shared the ball well and had four players scoring in the double-figures with Connor Essegian’s 17 points, Max Klesmit’s 12 points, Steven Crowl’s 14 and Chucky Hepburn’s 15 points.
Ohio State was led by Sensabaugh’s 13 points shooting 5-of-7 from the paint and 2-of-4 from 3. Zed Key contributed 12 points and 9 rebounds.
Both teams finished shooting around 42 percent from the field and 30 percent from behind the arc but Ohio State committed 16 turnovers as compared to Wisconsin’s eight.
Head coach Chris Holtmann was ejected from the game with 27 seconds remaining in the first half after Justice Sueing was charged for a charge. Key and assistant coaches were holding him back from the officials.
With the loss, Ohio State falls to 11-11 on the season. Up next, the Buckeyes head to Ann Arbor to face Michigan.
Photo via Ohio State Buckeyes.