Wisconsin hasn’t loved first half basketball most of the 2016-17 season, and that was the case once again as the Badgers dug a 13-point halftime deficit at Ohio State. The hope was for a comeback like Sunday’s big win over Maryland.
That didn’t materialize in the second half, despite senior Bronson Koenig’s big night. He tied a career high with 27 points but got little help in an 83-73 loss on Thursday night.
Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes no-showed on the night, combining for just 11 points, while shooting just 4 of 11 from the field.
Instead, Ohio State’s hot shooting never cooled off no matter what Wisconsin did or didn’t do defensively. OSU finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field and most importantly 63 percent from beyond the arc on 10-of-16 shooting.
It added up to Wisconsin’s third loss in the last four games and put the team a full game back of Purdue at the top of the Big Ten standings.
UW showed early signs that it would be able to build off a good second-half performance against Maryland. Vitto Brown and Koenig opened the game up with a pair of three-pointers and the Badgers were able to get a 6-4 lead early on.
That would be the last of Wisconsin’s effective team offense for most of the night.
Ohio State responded by going on a 9-0 run to run a lead to 13-6, only to see Koenig and Hayes combined for six points to make it a 13-12 game with just over 12 minutes to go in the 1st half.
That would be the last time the Badgers offense was able to really make a difference in the first half. Couple that with some horrific perimeter defense and Wisconsin was in major trouble most of the first half.
Ohio State took advantage of Wisconsin’s inability to score on one end or stop the three-point shot on the other — going in to to halftime up 44-31.
The Buckeyes shot 52 percent from the field (16-31), while holding Wisconsin to just 38 percent (9 of 24).
Wisconsin’s only answer in the first half was the hot shooting hand of Koenig, who had 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc (and the field) in the half. His four three-pointers were nearly half of Wisconsin’s made field goals in the half.
In total, the Badgers hit on seven triples and made just two baskets inside the three-point line. A lot of that was down to Ethan Happ’s absence for most of the first half. He played just six minutes, picking up two quick fouls and had just one shot (which was blocked) in the first half.
UW came out of the half hitting from deep, but once again forgot to cover the perimeter on the defensive end of the court.
The Buckeyes were able to maintain against any run the Badgers made thanks to shooting 5-of-6 from beyond the arc in the second half alone.
OSU’s lead shrunk to nine points three times in the second half. The first came after Brown hit a three-pointer with 16:56 to play, but OSU responded right back with a triple of its own.
Koenig twice put the Badgers back within single digits following that. OSU twice pushed it right back to double digits before the UW run could really get going.
After another Koenig made bucket with 14:07 to play it was UW back within striking distance at 54-45. JaQuan Lyle hit a nice fade away jumper to push it back to a double-digit lead.
Wisconsin would never get back in the game after that. Instead, it would just let it slip away slowly and painfully.
Ohio State would push its lead to 20 points twice in the final five minutes of the game, easing their way to victory after going up 77-57 with 4:39 to play.
Things don’t get much easier for the Badgers as they travel to Michigan State for a game on Sunday. Tip is scheduled for 3p.m. CT on CBS.