Three keys to the win
1. Bench play
At the 7:48 mark in the first half, Wisconsin's bench had scored 12 points. That's not a typo. In the previous three games, Duje Dukan, Vitto Brown, and Zak Showalter had combined for seven points. Although the return of Traevon Jackson will make a huge impact on bench performance, it still is nice to see that they can produce without him. The recent lackluster performance out of the bench has forced the starters to put up exhausting minutes which has proven to take its toll by the end of games. The production against Ohio State was fantastic to see. Not only did they make a difference on offense but they were able to stifle the Buckeyes enough so that the starters didn't return having to regain the lead that they left.
2. Inside presence
Even though Frank Kaminsky had a bit of a slow first half, the Badgers still were able to control the paint against the Buckeyes. Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes finished with 10 and 8 points respectively and Wisconsin shot exactly 50% from the field as a team. Kaminsky also elevated his game to start the half with six quick points. The senior finished with 20 points and 5 rebounds. The Badgers also out rebounded the Buckeyes 41 to 27 which led to crucial second change points. There were numerous times where the Badgers ability to maintain possession not only led to an increase in their lead but completely eliminated the energy that was being provided by the crowd.
3. Containing Sam Thompson
When you think Buckeyes this season you think D'Angelo Russell. And rightfully so. The star freshman leads the team in points and rebounds per game and is second in assists. However, the Buckeyes also receive crucial offensive production from senior Sam Thompson. The Badgers were able to make Thompson virtually a non factor holding him to 2 points and 0-7 from the floor. When Thompson isn't playing well, Russell is forced to try and overproduce to compensate for Thompson's lack of offense. Russell was still able to put up solid numbers finishing with 17 points and 5 assists but it wasn't enough to get the Buckeyes the win.
Game notes (courtesy UW)
• Wisconsin's 16-2 Big Ten record equals the best in school history (2007-08).
• The Badgers earned their 10th true road win of the season, matching the most in UW history (2007-08).
• UW's 28-3 record is the best start in school history.
• UW's 28 wins mark the fourth highest single-season total in school history.
• Wisconsin improved to 12-10 vs. Ohio State head coach Thad Matta, the best win percentage of any Big Ten team vs. Matta's OSU teams.
• UW is just the third Big Ten team to win at least 28 regular season games since 1996-97 (Illinois won 29 in 2004-05 and OSU in 2010-11).