Cody Cousino / Photo editor
Sunday’s Ohio State men’s basketball game was supposed to be a going out party for William Buford. Fans waved paddles featuring his face and the student section hoisted a massive cutout of the Buckeyes’ lone senior as Buford was honored prior to the Senior Day game against Wisconsin on Sunday at the Schottenstein Center.
Instead, the No. 16 Badgers stole the show by defeating the No. 8 Buckeyes, 63-60, as a dejected Buford sat at the postgame press conference with a towel over his mouth, staring blankly at the box score in front of him.
“Before the game it was cool,” he said. “But our main goal was to win the game and we didn’t win the game. So that kind of messed with my day a little bit.”
Although Buford’s demeanor was somber, OSU still has two more regular season games remaining, along with the Big Ten and national tournament.
Buford said he is troubled by the lack of cohesion between the team going forward.
“It’s real concerning leading into March,” he said. “I mean, you always want to be together and we should be together by now, but hopefully we learn from this loss.”
Coach Thad Matta said he threw the team out of practice Saturday.
“They weren’t ready to practice and this team has shown we play like we practice,” Matta said. “It’s been proven. We had two great days of practice going into the Illinois game (an 83-67 OSU win Tuesday) and that’s why I was so upset yesterday in practice because it wasn’t where it needed to be.
“The guys have got to look at themselves in the mirror and come back and get ready to go.”
Poor team practices have occurred too much this season and the Buckeyes need to learn from the losses that result from them, sophomore guard Aaron Craft said.
“It’s not a secret,” Craft said. “Leaving the practice gym you know if we practiced well as a team or if we didn’t. We’ve had that feeling (that we didn’t) probably a little too much than we should have, but once again we have to find a way to learn from it. We have to find a way to move on and refocus and keep our heads up.”
Sophomore forward DeShaun Thomas, who had a game-high 23 points in the loss to the Badgers, said the team needs to rally around each other going forward.
“It all comes down to maturity and talking to each other, you know, helping each other out,” Thomas said. “That’s what it’s all about. Somebody’s got to step up and just be that guy to say, ‘This is enough,’ and bring us all together.”
Craft said there is still enough time for the Buckeyes to come together before postseason play.
“We are getting to the end of the season, but there’s still time to get better,” Craft said. “We’re still learning, we’re a young team. I think we can figure it out still.”
OSU finishes regular season play this week with two road games: Wednesday at Northwestern and Sunday at Michigan State.