Wisconsin arrived in Columbus to face off with the Buckeyes of Ohio State for Senior Day at Value City Arena. Surprisingly, the Badgers gave up the most points they have all season long, losing 93-65 to the hot shooting Buckeyes. Jon Diebler continued his shooting streak from the Penn State game by hitting 7-8 from three and scoring 27 points. Surprisingly, he was the only Buckeye to miss a three pointer, as 5 others added long shots of their own to shoot 14-15 from beyond the arc for 93.3% overall.
Both teams came out ready to play. Neither side was able to open up a big lead early, fighting tooth and nail through the first few minutes. Not surprisingly, the Badger’s early scoring came from beyond the arc. The Bucks, on the other hand, spent most of their time going low and scoring in the paint, particularly with Sullinger who scored 4-5 in the early going.
Once the CBS feed switched over from the irritating, and never-ending, MVC championship game, this game suddenly slowed down. For several minutes neither team was able to score a basket. That streak was finally broken when Jon Diebler sank a huge three pointer from well outside the three point arc, and drew the foul on the shot. He followed that up on the next possession with another huge three pointer, which finally seemed to unplug the basket for the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes took advantage of the sudden momentum boost in a big way. Before Bo Ryan could say “deal with it”, the Buckeyes were up by double digit points and looking to tack on more. Nothing Wisconsin was doing seemed to be able to give them much traction on offense. The biggest problem for their offensive effort was the lack of Jon Leuer, who was forced to sit on the bench with two fouls early in the first half.
Ryan, realizing that his team was having issues without Leuer, decided to put his big man back into the game with a couple minutes left in the half. The move seemed to give his team a spark on the offensive side, particularly when he hit a shot from outside. His play managed to keep his team in the game in the later parts of the first half when it looked like they weren’t going to be able to stay in it.
For the half, Wisconsin shot a respectable 43.3% (13-30) from the floor and 42.9% (6-14) from three. For good teams, that shooting should be more than enough to hang around in a basketball game. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes shot an unbelievable 68% (17-25) from the field, and an absolutely ludcrous 85.7% (6-7) from beyond the arc.
To make matters worse, the Buckeyes outrebounded Wisconsin 16-10 while picking up 4 fewer fouls for the half. Ohio State was simply outplaying the Badgers in all phases of the game, and it showed on the scoreboard as the Buckeyes went into the half holding a 47-32 lead. Diebler’s 4-5 from beyond the arc, including his last second shot to end the half and send the Buckeyes into the locker room with all of the momentum.
Coming out of the half, the Buckeyes continued the hot play on both sides of the court. Particularly impressive was the defensive effort for the Buckeyes, repeatedly forcing Wisconsin to take bad shots late in the shot clock. They coupled that with continued effort on the offensive end of the court, finding easy points all over the floor. The best was a Diebler dribble drive that left the Wisconsin defense standing dumbstruck.
For the second game in a row, Jon Diebler lit up the nets from beyond the arc. Over those two games, Threebler hit 17/20 from beyond the arc, an incredible feat of shooting that may never be repeated. Nothing Wisconsin could do defensively was able to stop Diebler’s super hot shooting. Even getting a hand in his face seemed only to make him shoot better.
By the middle of the second half, the Buckeyes were laying it on Wisconsin with a shovel. The Buckeyes jumped out to a 20 point lead and were preparing to just run the Badgers out of the Schott. Nothing seemed to be able to stop Ohio State on either end of the court. The crowd was in the game in a big way and the Schott was sounding as loud as it ever has been.
Down 25, the Badgers began to try to make a comeback, hitting a couple of baskets and closing the gap a little. Unfortunately, the OSU effort on the offensive end was simply too much for the Badgers to be able to close with. Whatever Wisconsin put up, the Buckeyes responded to in a big way, either by drawing an and one or raining in yet another three pointer.
It’s tough to see Lighty, Lauderdale, and Diebler playing their final games at Value City Arena. These kids have given so much to this team and it’s been a joy to be able to watch them play out their careers here at Ohio State.
The Buckeyes finished the game shooting an unimaginable 92.9% (13-14) from three point range on the strength of five different shooters. In fact, the only miss was from Diebler. From the floor, the Bucks hit 67.4% (31-46), clearly emphasizing just how much the Buckeyes wanted this win. The Badgers shot a paltry 40.7% (25-60) from the floor and 37.5% (9-24) from three, substantially hurting their ability to keep up with the hot shooting Buckeyes.
Four Buckeyes made double figures in scoring: Jon Diebler’s 27 led all scorers while Jared Sullinger’s 22 was close behind. William Buford’s 18 and David Lighty’s 13 joined them in the double digits. Wisconsin responded with 17 from Josh Gasser, 16 from Jon Leuer, and 10 from Keaton Nankivil.
Ohio State also beat the Badgers on the glass 29-25 and in assists 18-10.
Ohio State, the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament, next faces the winner of Thursday’s Northwestern/Minnesota game. The Buckeyes will play that game on Friday, March 11th at Noon. You’ll be able to see that game on the Big Ten Network.