This was an opportunity for the Wisconsin Badgers to right the ship heading towards the NCAA tournament. They were hosting another desperate team, a struggling Ohio State Buckeyes squad that were in a downward spiral. Unfortunately Wisconsin failed to take advantage, dropping their third-straight home game and losing to the Buckeyes 59-58.
A month ago this looked like a marquee Big Ten matchup of two potential Final Four teams. Instead it was a game of two teams trying to figure things out and fast.
Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft was held scoreless for almost the entire game, but in the final four-plus minutes he reeled off seven very important points to lead his team to the victory.
With only 8 seconds left in the game, the Badgers received a golden opportunity when Lenzelle Smith, Jr. completely missed a point-blank lay up and turned the ball over. After the timeout Wisconsin guard Traevon Jackson drove the length of the floor only to be stonewalled at the three-point line and quickly passed the ball off to Sam Dekker who threw up a wild shot that remarkably almost went win.
Ohio State coach Thad Matta rejoiced. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan was defeated, looking for answers.
Throughout the game the Badgers had numerous dry spells where they couldn’t hit a shot to save their lives. In the second half freshman Nigel Hayes was the hot hand, scoring 14 of his team-high 17 points in that second frame. But the problem was the Badgers couldn’t seem to get him the ball at times and failed to find another shooter on the floor to relieve the pressure off Hayes.
Another major problem was how poorly the Badgers shot from both the three-point line and the free throw line. Wisconsin as a team only connected of 3 of 17 shots behind the arc. And after starting the game 10-10 from the free throw line, the Badgers went cold finishing the game 19 of 29.
This Wisconsin team once again leaves a game searching for answers. After starting 16-0, the Badgers have now lost five of their last six games and sit at a 17-5 record. Next for Wisconsin is a trip to the State Farm Center to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini Tuesday night. A game that once looked like an easy win for the Badgers has now turned into a who knows what to expect matchup.