Ohio State runs Wisconsin out of Columbus behind 68 percent shooting
It turns out Jon Diebler knows a little something about saving the best for last.
Ohio State's senior marksman came into Sunday's game averaging six points per game and shooting just 6-of-21 on 3-pointers in six career games against Wisconsin. He had never hit more than two 3-pointers in a game against the Badgers. Until today. Diebler busted loose in a revenge game with 27 points on 7-of-8 shooting behind the arc to propel No. 1 Ohio State (29-2, 16-2 Big Ten) to a 93-65 demolition of No. 10 Wisconsin (23-7, 13-5).
The scarier part for the Badgers is that the other Buckeyes hit all seven of their 3-pointers. In all, Ohio State set an NCAA record with 14 consecutive made 3-pointers. The Buckeyes shot 32-of-47 (68.1%) from the floor as a team, including 14-of-15 (93.3%) on 3-pointers which is also an NCAA record for 3FG%. Not a flattering way for Wisconsin to get into the record books.
Wisconsin did not look anything like the poised team that rallied to beat the top-ranked Buckeyes a month ago. Credit freshman Aaron Craft for completely shutting down Jordan Taylor. Taylor was unable to get by Craft off the bounce and Ohio State made sure to stick both defenders with Taylor after screens to force the ball out of his hands. The junior guard scored only eight points on 2-of-9 shooting and was held without a field goal the entire second half.
Besides the mind-boggling performance from Taylor, one ominous trend that continued Sunday was the early foul trouble for Wisconsin senior Jon Leuer. Just eight minutes into the game, Leuer picked up his second foul and sat until the 4:39 mark. Leuer managed to score UW's last seven points of the first half, but the team was already in a deep hole by then.
Without his running mate to take pressure off of him, Taylor had no chance to keep up with Diebler's blitz. Diebler gave Wisconsin fair warning too, after dropping 10 treys on Penn State last Tuesday night. But time after time, the Badger defense allowed him to get clean looks at the basket in the first half, when he hit 4-of-5 treys to stake Ohio State to a 47-32 halftime lead. And once he and his teammates got rolling, there was no slowing them down.
Clearly the Buckeyes learned their lesson in Madison: don't let up. Ohio State never relented on defense in the second half either. Wisconsin scrapped it's way to a string of buckets after the break behind Josh Gasser, pulling within 59-48 with 12:47 remaining on a thunderous dunk and ensuing free throw by Mike Bruesewitz. But Ohio State responded with a 10-0 run over the next two minutes and pushed its lead to as many as 31 points by the end of the game. The Badgers went back to settling for contested jumpers for the most part because that is nearly all that was available.
Meanwhile, Diebler was allowed to keep shooting right over the top of Gasser until the defensive assignments were switched. It was too little, too late. In addition, the attention paid to Diebler -- however inadequate with such a hot shooter -- opened up the lob pass inside to Jared Sullinger and eventually gave way to driving lanes for Craft and others. Sullinger finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, while William Buford added another 18 points.
It is ironic that just days after losing out a highly-ranked athletic recruit from its own state, Wisconsin's weakness on the wing was exposed again. At each position, Ohio State was quick enough to stay in front of Badger penetration for the majority of the game. When the Buckeyes had the ball, Wisconsin could not say the same. Help defense had to cover for guys who failed to stay with their defensive mark, which limited Wisconsin's ability to sell out to stop Diebler, Buford and David Lighty from hitting treys.
Though Gasser had the best view of Diebler's shooting clinic all night, he should be commended for his efforts on offense. He was easily the most composed Badger on the court and his 17-point, six-board display allowed Wisconsin fans at least a little to be excited about. Gasser's shooting stroke is officially back after going 2-for-3 on 3-pointers and shooting 70% overall.
Leuer added 16 points for Wiscosin, but must become more assertive earlier in games on the offensive end. And that cannot happen if he is stuck on the bench.
Taylor lost his bid to become this season's Big Ten scoring champ but maintained his grip on his nation-leading assist-to-turnover ratio with four assists and zero turnovers. I imagine he cares more about getting back on the winning side though.
The loss was Bo Ryan's most lopsided defeat in nine years and the 93 points were the most surrendered by Wisconsin since Arizona blew the Badgers away in the 2006 NCAA tournament. Losing also solidifies Wisconsin as the No. 3 seed in this week's Big Ten Tournament, where the Badgers will meet the winner of the Penn State-Indiana game on Friday.
Aren't you glad this one wasn't a tournament game?