Wisconsin 65, Ohio State 60: Last word

Wisconsin didn’t make a shot from the field in the final seven minutes of the game but managed to hang on to beat Ohio State 65-60 on Thursday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

Player of the Game: Connor Essegian

The freshman gave Wisconsin a much-needed lift offensively in the first half as the team scored 43 points after managing just 16 in the first half last Saturday against Illinois. Essegian accounted for 14 of those, including hitting two of the four 3-pointers he put up, and all four technical free throws he got near the end of the half. Shots and makes were a little more difficult to come by in the second half (1-for-4) but he was able to offset that with a bounce back game on the defensive end.

The good: The first half

The first 20 minutes was exactly what you wanted to see from Wisconsin after three-straight losses, including the last two by double figures. The Badgers were crisp on offense and locked in defensively. They got contributions up and down the lineup on offense, including Essegian, Chucky Hepburn (12 points) and Steven Crowl (11 points) as they shot 51.6% from the field. Crowl really shined, starting the game 5-for-5 and showing some nice touch around the basket in addition to hitting a 3-pointer.

On defense, they played tough on the inside and got some good minutes off the bench from Carter Gilmore. Wisconsin closed the half on an 8-0 run that gave the team a 16-point lead at the break.

The not so good: The last 7:18

Wisconsin couldn’t make it easy on itself, watching a 15-point lead dwindle to two in the final 7:18 of the game. As good as the Badgers were offensively in the first half and portions of the second, making 23 of their first 46 shots, they were that bad in trying to finish the Buckeyes off.

Coach Greg Gard’s club did not make a shot from the field in the final 7:18, going 0-for-9. Essegian’s layup gave them 62 points at that point and they didn’t score again until a free throw by Hepburn with 24 seconds left. It was especially tough stretch for Tyler Wahl, who had four of Wisconsin’s nine misses and failed to hit either of the free throws he attempted.

All that said, the Badgers did find a way in the final minutes because of their defense and some clutch free throws. Max Klesmit took a charge coming out of a timeout with Wisconsin clinging to a 62-56 lead and that was followed up by a steal from Essegian. After Ohio State got within two in the final 30 seconds, Hepburn stepped up and went 3-for-4 from the line to close it out.

Stats of the Game:

12 — That is how many points Klesmit scored, including nine in the second half. He was the only Wisconsin player to make more than one shot from the field in the final 20 minutes.

59.1 — That is what Wisconsin shot from the free throw line on its 22 attempts. The Badgers came into the game shooting 66.3% for the season, ranked 306th in the country.

2 — That is how many points the Badgers got from their bench, with Gilmore providing those with a nice move inside in the second half. The three players that played off the bench, Gilmore, Jordan Davis and Kamari McGee took a total of two shots, and the latter two combined to play just 11 minutes.

16 — That is how many turnovers Ohio State had. The Buckeyes came into the game averaging just 11.

In Case You Missed It

— Wisconsin wore its black, player-inspired uniforms for a second time and improved to 2-0 in them.

— Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was ejected near the end of the first half after picking up a pair of technical fouls for arguing a call by the referee. It allowed Wisconsin to turn a 37-27 game into a 43-27 game at the break.

— Buckeyes star freshman Brice Sensabaugh battled foul trouble much of the night and played only 16 minutes. He still managed to do damage, though, scoring 13 points and grabbing three rebounds.

— Wisconsin improved to 5-6 in Big Ten play, moving into a tie for 10th place. However, the Badgers are just one game back of fourth place, as there are currently six teams tied at 6-5, and two games out of second place.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (13-9, 5-6) will welcome Northwestern (15-7, 6-5) to the Kohl Center on Sunday.