Ohio State Submits to Wisconsin Burst in Lopsided Loss

Bruce Hooley

Whatever wellspring of want-to or can-do that Ohio State accessed at Michigan either ran dry or denied the Buckeyes access Sunday at Wisconsin in an embarrassingly-meek 70-57 defeat.

Without a closing 14-2 rally at the end when Wisconsin emptied its bench, the outcome would have been uglier, but not even in bratwurst county was there enough lipstick to beautify this pig in the eyes of OSU head coach Chris Holtmann.

"Right from the start, I felt like we didn't have enough stuff to us to beat a good team on the road," Holtmann said "We were not tough enough, certainly. It kind of came about in a lot of different ways. Disappointing."

Wisconsin is a clutching, grabbing, frustratingly-maddening opponent to play, particularly in the Bermuda Triangle of the Kohl Center, where it had already taken down both Maryland and Michigan State, the Big Ten's top teams.

The Badgers figured to be even nastier than normal after a week in which a key player quit the team and blew up coach Greg Gard in the process, followed by the dismissal of the team's strength coach for uttering a racial slur while retelling a story from his NBA past.

That's the whirling helicopter blade into which Ohio State walked and promptly revved into high gear with 10 first-half turnovers.

Couple that with Kaleb Wesson committing two fouls and going to the bench with inside eight minutes to play and you can probably read the tarot cards that foretold the Buckeyes' defeat.

Wisconsin greeted Wesson's departure with a 23-5 burst to end the half that included a 16-0 left hook over the final four minutes.

All that conspired to deny OSU's chance to get to .500 in the Big Ten and obliterate hopes of avenging an earlier loss to the Badgers in Columbus.

"We weren't fatigued," Holtmann said. "We just got beat by a team that played a lot better. We didn't have a good enough effort to be competitive on the road."

Down 18 at the half to Wisconsin and its ponderous pace is the equivalent of being down 30 to anyone else, so the impact of a 7-0 rally Ohio State offered to start the second half proved wholly inconsequential.

"I thought we had some good life to us," Holtmann said. "We had a chance there and then they hit a big three off an offensive rebound."

The Buckeyes would never get close than that 11-point flirtation with competitiveness thanks to the rebirth of senior guard Brevin Pritzil's jump shot.

Pritzil, who went 0-for-7 from the field and didn't score in an 18-point loss Wednesday at Minnesota, made all but one of the six three-point shots he attempted and scored a team-high 19 points.

That was more than enough for Wisconsin (14-10, 7-6) to dominate and sweep the season series from OSU (15-8, 5-7), which plays host to Rutgers on Wednesday.

Kaleb Wesson and Duane Washington, who combined for 40 points in the win at Michigan and in Ohio State's 61-57 home loss to Wisconsin on Jan. 3, combined for just 14 points on collective 4-of-19 shooting.

Both shot 0-for-4 from 3-point range to lowlight the Buckeyes' 32% shooting.

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