CHICAGO — Wisconsin coach Greg Gard and his players walked off the court at the United Center Wednesday night knowing their hopes of securing a spot at the NCAA tournament were all but gone.

Entering the Big Ten tournament as No. 12, the Badgers knew they probably needed to win two games to feel confident of earning a spot in the 68-team field.

Instead, they shot terribly in a 65-57 loss to No. 13 Ohio State, who won just five Big Ten games during the regular season, and had to brace themselves for the opportunity to play at the NIT.

The Badgers (17-14) went out with a win for the second consecutive Big Ten tournament. UW was seeded at No. 2 last season but suffered a 69-63 quarterfinal loss to No. 7 Michigan State.

Ohio State, who were 2-0 in the Big Ten and 10-3 overall after a 16-point win in Northwestern on Jan. 1, improved to 14-18.

The Buckeyes meet fifth-ranked Iowa (19-12) at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Ohio State's Sean McNeil passed Wisconsin's Chucky Hepburn by one shot on Wednesday night to 17 points.

Ohio State’s Sean McNeil passed Wisconsin’s Chucky Hepburn by one shot on Wednesday night to 17 points.

Box Score:State of Ohio 65, Wisconsin 57

Badgers couldn’t keep up in the first half

UW’s defeat on Wednesday seemed as good as official after the first 20 minutes.

Led by guards Bruce Thornton and Sean McNeil, Ohio State hit 4 of 7 threes (57.1%) and 15 of 22 shots overall (68.2%) for a 36-18 halftime lead.

UW’s defense was underperforming and the offense was even worse.

The Badgers shot 35.5% from three-point range but missed all seven of their three-point attempts at halftime. With both Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl missing multiple shots on the lane, UW only hit 7 of 23 shots overall (30.4%).

The Buckeyes converted six UW turnovers into nine points and were down just once at halftime, 2-0, when Connor Essegian scored on the lane after 41 seconds.

Ohio State’s biggest lead was 27 points at 47-20. Led by Wahl, the Badgers closed within 55-41 with 8:39 left.

However, they failed to score on their next six possessions and Justice Sueing hit a baseline jumper to increase the lead to 57-41.

Wisconsin had a strong run in the second half

UW made one final push, going on an 11-0 run sparked by a trio of three-pointers to go 57-52 with 2:14 to go.

However, Max Klesmit missed an open three with 1:45 to go, and McNeil hit two free throws with 1:20 to go to increase the lead to 59-52.

Chucky Hepburn missed a three and Isaac Likekele was fouled and hit 1 of 2 free throws with 1:09 left.

Crowl was fouled on the rebound of the second free throw and hit both shots to draw UW within 60-54.

Jordan Davis forced a turnover with 1:06 left and Klesmit was fouled with 1:03 left. The first shot was down and leaked out, but the second was in.

UW was again within five.

Sueing was fouled on the inbound and hit 1 of 2 free throws for a 61-55 lead. Hepburn hit a drive 52.6 seconds clear and the lead was down to four.

Sueing got back on the line with 49.4 seconds left and hit 1 of 2 shots. UW trailed, 62-57.

Wahl missed a hard-fought drive by 28 seconds and the Buckeyes grabbed the rebound. Felix Okpara hit 1 of 2 free throws with 27.9 seconds left, Wahl missed a three-point try and the comeback was finally put down.

Ohio State's Roddy Gayle Jr. shoots over Wisconsin's Steven Crowl Wednesday night.

Ohio State’s Roddy Gayle Jr. shoots over Wisconsin’s Steven Crowl Wednesday night.

Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl were internally ineffective

Wahl and Crowl combined 17 of 24 shots and contributed 42 points and 14 rebounds in Sunday’s UW regular-season finals in Minnesota.

This duo could not influence Wednesday’s game.

Wahl hit 8 of 16 shots and scored 17 of his 19 second-half points, but Crowl hit only 3 of 9 shots and finished with eight points.

Hepburn, a commendable All-Big-Ten pick, hit just 1 of 6 three-pointers and 2 of 9 shots overall, adding six points.

Connor Essegian, who was named to the league’s freshmen team, added 11 points but hit just 1 of 7 three-point attempts and 4 of 13 shots overall.

Davis added seven points for UW, who finished 4 of 22 from three-point range and 21 of 61 overall.

Thornton (13 points) and McNeil (10 points) combined 3 of 4 three-pointers and 10 of 11 shots in the first half to start Ohio State’s onslaught.

McNeil finished with 17 points. Justice Sueing added 16 and Thornton finished on 15. This trio combined hit 17 of 28 shots.

Ohio State freshman Brice Sensabaugh (16.5 ppg, 41.5% three-pointer) added nine points and 11 rebounds.

Badgers don’t manage to do threesomes early

The Badgers went into the game at 35.5% from three-point range but missed their first 4 three-point attempts and started 3-of-10 overall.

That allowed the Buckeyes, who hit 7 of 12 shots, to open a 16-7 lead with 11:34 in the first half.

Ohio State didn’t cool down at all, eventually extending the lead to 32-16 on a three-pointer from Thornton at 4:46 at the half.

The Buckeyes had hit 4 of 6 threes (66.7%) and 14 of 19 shots overall (73.7%) up to that point.

UW, who was shooting 0-for-4 from three-point range and 7-of-18 overall (38.9%) and saddled with five turnovers, couldn’t keep up.

The Buckeyes hit 10 of their last 12 shots at halftime, finishing 68.2% (15 of 22) and leading 36-18.

UW’s numbers were brutal: 0 of 7 from beyond the arc, 7 of 23 shots overall (30.4%), and six turnovers that resulted in 10 points for the Buckeyes.

The opening minutes of the second half showed UW had little to no chance of a comeback.

Crowl missed a hook in lane and Okpara landed a miss at the other end. Klesmit missed a jumper in the lane and Sueing hit a fadeaway baseline jumper for a 40-18 lead with 18:32 in the game.

Wahl’s basket inside pushed UW to the 20-point mark on the left at 17:30.

The Badgers didn’t score double-digit field goals until Davis hit a jumper with a 14:52 left. That cut Ohio State’s lead to 47-24.

They missed their first 10 three-point attempts until Davis hit left wing at 14:17.

Sueing converted a three-point game to push Ohio State’s lead to 50-24, but the Badgers took five points from Jordan Davis in a 9-0 run. That cut the deficit to 50-33 and forced the Buckeyes to call a timeout at 11:49.

McNeil crushed the Badgers’ rally.

First he scored with a three from the corner for a 53:33 lead and then after a missed shot by Wahl in the transition game he scored for a 55:33 lead.

Wahl helped UW hit back and draw within 14 by scoring eight straight points in a 2:04 span. Ohio State’s lead was down to 55-41, with 8:39 to go.

Could UW Stage a Miracle Comeback?

The Badgers charged back and drew within four points before eventually running out of time.

Your NCAA hopes? On life support.

Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at

DOWNLOAD THE APP: Get the latest news, sports and more

This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Shoots Badly, Loses to Ohio State in Big Ten Tournament


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *