Badgers Bully Buckeyes in 71-49 Rout
By Brandon Castel
Wisconsin ripped off an early 18-0 run and the 20th-ranked Badgers cruised past No. 13 Ohio State for an easy 71-49 victory in Madison on Sunday.
It was the third loss in the last four games for the Buckeyes (18-7, 8-5 Big Ten), who fell three tames back of Indiana and Michigan State in the hunt for another regular season Big Ten championship.
The Kohl Center has often been a cruel mistress for Thad Matta’s boys over the last nine years. Sunday was especially merciless on an OSU team that is still searching for an identity with just five games remaining in the regular season.
Wisconsin (18-8, 9-4) found its identity on the offensive end Sunday, connecting on 53 percent of their shots in a 22-point rout that will leave the Buckeye searching for answers. Matta’s group fell to 3-5 on the road this season with their three wins coming against Purdue, Nebraska and Penn State – three of the worst teams in the conference.
Jared Berggren scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots for a Wisconsin team that scored only 49 points in a loss at Ohio State last month. Guard Ben Brust also tallied 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Wisconsin, which tied a season-high with 39 points in the first half of a conference game.
“The way we opened the game defensively, guys catch and shoot, we weren't even challenging shots,” Matta said.
The scored was tied 6-6 in the early going, but Wisconsin took control with an 18-0 run that lasted more than 7 minutes. The Buckeyes had no answer for the Badgers during that stretch, and couldn’t find any kind of rhythm at the offensive end, something that carried over into the second half of the game.
Junior Deshaun Thomas led the way with 18 points on 8-of-17 shoot and Sam Thompson scored 10 but no other Buckeyes reached double figures on the afternoon. It was so bad at one point, Matta decided to empty his bench with Trey McDonald and Amedeo Della Valle playing big minutes down the stretch in the second half.
Point guard Aaron Craft was held to four points on 2-of-9 shooting, and the Buckeyes shot less than 38 percent from the field as they fell into fifth place in the Big Ten standings, a game back of Wisconsin and Michigan.
The Badgers led by as many as 20 points in the first half on a three from freshman Sam Dekker, who gave them 13 points off the bench. The lead was 17 points at the half, with the Buckeyes totaling just 22 points over the first 20 minutes.
It was the lowest halftime output of the season for the Buckeyes, two fewer than the first meeting between these two teams in Columbus. Ohio State cut the deficit to 13 in the opening minute of the second half, but it was as close as the would get.
Wisconsin again responded with a 19-9 run that gave them a 58-35 lead with 8:13 to play, erasing any hope of an Ohio State comeback. The lead got as high as 26 in the second half as the Badgers outscored OSU 32-27 over the final 20 minutes.
Ohio State will return to the hardwood on Wednesday when it hosts Minnesota (18-8, 6-7) at 7 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network) in the only meeting of the season. The Buckeyes still have to play No. 8 Michigan State and No. Indiana again before the year is done.
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