With all coach Thad Matta had accomplished at Ohio State, he had never won at Wisconsin’s Kohl Center as the Buckeyes’ coach. Saturday, OSU arrived in Madison undefeated and No. 1 in the country to give the coach, perhaps, his best chance yet.
But alas, a new year produced the same result.
No. 14 Wisconsin (19-5, 9-3 Big Ten) handed OSU (24-1, 11-1 Big Ten) its first loss of the season Saturday, 71-67. Junior guard Jordan Taylor led all scorers with 27 points, 21 of which came in the second half, on 8-for-13 shooting for the Badgers.
As expected, the Badgers came out at the slow pace that so many teams have implemented against the Buckeyes this year. As they played exclusively in the halfcourt, Wisconsin was able to open up an early lead.
However, when freshman point guard Aaron Craft entered the game for the Buckeyes, the Badger offense quickly changed from methodical to simply stagnant. As Craft stifled Taylor, Wisconsin had a stretch in the first half in which it went more than six minutes without making a field goal.
After junior guard William Buford tied the game at 26 with a minute to go, a basket from fifth-year senior forward David Lighty gave the Buckeyes their first lead of the game, 28-26, at halftime.
The Badgers quickly tied the game at 28 to start the second half, but the next several minutes were all OSU.
The Buckeyes went on a 21-4 run that lasted more than six minutes as they opened up a 47-32 lead with 13:30 to go.
Wisconsin, however, wasn’t going away. Taylor scored eight unanswered points for the Badgers and a pair of free throws from sophomore forward Mike Bruesewitz cut the lead to five. Taylor scored again on the next possession, and a 3-pointer from freshman guard Josh Gasser completed a 15-0 Wisconsin run and tied the game, 47-47.
With the game tied, 55-55, and just more than six minutes remaining, a basket from senior forward Keaton Nankivil gave the Badgers their first lead since the first half. Another 3-pointer and a pair of free throws from Taylor put Wisconsin up seven with just more than four minutes to go.
OSU cut the lead to two with less than a minute to go, but a Bruesewitz 3-pointer and a turnover from Craft on the ensuing possession put the game out of reach.
Buford led the Buckeyes with 21 points, and forward Jared Sullinger’s 19 points and 12 rebounds gave the freshman his 12th double-double of the season.
The Buckeyes play again at 9 p.m. Tuesday at home against Michigan State.