Having wrapped up the Big Ten regular season title earlier in the week, the No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers (28-2, 16-2) could’ve mailed it in against No. 23 Ohio State (21-9, 10-7). However, there was plenty to accomplish for Wisconsin — including tying the school record for Big Ten wins.
The Badgers took things very seriously, and made a huge statement with a 24-point (72-48) road win over the Buckeyes. It may have also been the statement needed for a No. 1 seed from the NCAA tournament selection committee.
Ohio State’s 48 points were a season low, while the Badgers held a Big Ten opponent under 60 points for the 11th time in 16 Big Ten contests this season.
With back-to-back 25-plus point performances, senior forward Frank Kaminsky continued his rise to potential National Player of the Year honors. He put up 20 points, five rebounds and three assists — doing most of his damage after coming out of the locker room for the second half.
He was joined in double figures by point guard Bronson Koenig with 15 points and forward Sam Dekker added 10 points and eight rebounds in the win.
Wisconsin shot 50 percent from the field for the game, while also dominating in the paint to the tune of a 40-22 advantage in points in the paint.
Ohio State was led by star freshman guard DeAngelo Russell, who had 17 points on 7 of 18 shooting from the field.
The Badgers managed to surprise most in the first half, getting an all-around team effort for the first time in a few weeks. Even UW’s bench got in the mix, with Dukan finding some better form with seven points and both Vitto Brown and Zak Showalter putting positive numbers on the stat sheet as well.
It led to the Badgers having a 14-2 advantage in bench points in the victory. The 12-point effort off the bench was more than the entire group was able to put up in the last five games combined.
Heading in to postseason play, getting some more production out of the bench will be key and seeing it happen before the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments has to make the Badgers just that much more confident.
After giving up the opening bucket of the game, Wisconsin turned on the offensive fireworks and defensive effort to take a commanding lead. That defensive effort included some great transition D, forcing Ohio State to take bad shots or force layup attempts that weren’t really there.
It also lead to a poor overall shooting effort for most of the half by the Buckeyes.
OSU is just 3 of 14 from the field (21.4%) so far this half, while #Badgers have hit at an 11 of 20 (55%) pace.
— MadTown Badgers (@MTBadgers) March 8, 2015
It didn’t get much better for the Buckeyes after that, as they finished the half shooting just 28.6 percent from the field and made just eight field goals in the first half. Ohio State was able to keep themselves somewhat in the game thanks to 5 of 8 shooting from the free throw line in the first half alone.
Wisconsin’s offense slowed down a bit after the hot start thanks to an increase in the physicality of Ohio State on both ends of the floor. The different pace of the game took some getting used to for the Badgers, but they adjusted just fine.
After starting 11 of 20 from the field, the Badgers ended the half 15 of 29 from the field and were up 37-23. UW also had a massive 12-0 advantage in points off the bench, taking advantage of the best production the Badgers’ have had from their bench.
It didn’t take long for Kaminsky to assert himself after halftime either, as he put up six points in UW’s first three possessions.
However, the Buckeyes answered back with a 9-2 run to get back within 10 points. After breaking the run a bit, the two teams kept the game close for a few more minutes until DeAngelo Russell had a three-point play that put the Badgers’ lead under 10 points for the first time since the 10:49 mark of the first half.
It didn’t take long for UW to wake up again offensively though, as Koenig hit back-to-back three-point buckets to push the Badgers lead back to a much more manageable 13-point margin.
Koenig wasn’t finished though, as the was responsible for eight straight points from the Badgers in a three-possession span to push the lead to 54-39.
Wisconsin didn’t look back after that, extending its lead to as many as 25 points with 6:13 to play in the second half. From that point on the Badgers’ maintained a 20-point or more lead, and ended Ohio State coach Thad Matta’s perfect 13-0 record in regular season games played in March.
Thad Matta was 13-0 in Big Ten games at home in March. 13-1 now. #Badgers
— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) March 8, 2015
Up next for Wisconsin is the Big Ten tournament, in which it will be the No. 1 seed and will have a double bye in to the quarterfinals on Friday. UW will play the winner of Illinois/Michigan at 11am CT on ESPN.