In a game between two desperate teams, No. 24 Ohio State (17-5, 4-5) left the Kohl Center with a huge sigh of relief.
After being ranked No. 3 and 4 in the country at the beginning of January, the Buckeyes and No. 14 Wisconsin (17-5, 4-5) had lost five of six and four of five games, respectively.
A last-second heave by Wisconsin sophomore forward Sam Dekker clanked off the rim, and the Buckeyes held on to a much-needed win, 59-58.
After Wisconsin freshman forward Nigel Hayes made one of two free throws to tie the game at 57 with 1:08 remaining, OSU junior center Amir Williams found himself at the line with a one-and-one opportunity.
Williams only made one of two, and Badger junior forward Frank Kaminsky missed a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession that would have given his team the lead.
Williams collected the rebound and was fouled with just 25 seconds remaining, but again would make just one of two.
With a 59-57 lead, OSU junior guard Shannon Scott — who was replaced by junior forward Sam Thompson in the starting lineup for the first time this season — would foul Badger junior guard Traevon Jackson, who made the first of two free throws.
After missing the second, Williams snatched the rebound and found senior guard Aaron Craft, who would push the ball upcourt to fellow senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr., who missed a wide-open layup.
Smith Jr. grabbed his own miss, but then lost his footing and was called for traveling, and it looked as if OSU’s late game struggles would continue.
But Jackson was unable to find any space for a shot, shoving the ball off to Dekker who missed the potential game-winner and allowed the Buckeyes to exhale on a huge road victory.
OSU junior forward LaQuinton Ross led the Buckeyes with 13 points, and sophomore guard Amedeo Della Valle came off the bench to chip in 11, nine of which came in the first half.
Hayes scored a game-high 17 points for the Badgers.
Coming off the big road win, OSU is slated to travel to No. 15 Iowa (16-5, 5-3) Tuesday to take on the Hawkeyes. Iowa beat OSU, 84-74, at the Schottenstein Center Jan. 12 in the first matchup between the teams this season.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
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