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Wisconsin basketball: Ohio State recap

The Badgers celebrate the year 2000 in style with a big home victory over OSU.

Dan Sanger

On a day celebrating the the 2000 Final Four squad, the team and fans braved the wintery conditions outside for a Sunday matinee between the Wisconsin Badgers (14-10 overall, 7-6 B1G) and the Ohio State Buckeyes (15-8 overall, 5-7 B1G).

In a game where two teams comprising the middle of the conference heap squared off, it was Wisconsin that would prevail. The Badgers would ride some home cooking in the shooting department to take down Ohio State 70 to 57.

In the opening moments of the game, Micah Potter would hit a big three-pointer against his former squad, as he earned the first start of his Wisconsin career. The shots were not falling though for anyone, as the two teams were tied up at three points until the 14:30 mark in the first half.

Ohio State would take advantage of some shooting struggles for Wisconsin to take a three point lead into the second media timeout, but Wisconsin would start to settle in thanks to some nice play by Trevor Anderson. He scored five consecutive points to give the Badgers a 20-15 lead with 5:35 left in the first half.

To close out the first half, Wisconsin would continue to pile on the good shooting, as Brevin Pritzl and D’Mitrik Trice both went bananas from behind the arc. The Badgers would go on a 16-0 run over the final four minutes to take a 38-20 lead into the intermission.

To start the second half, the Badgers would come out a bit flat, but were able to mitigate the damage.

Wisconsin held a 14 point lead at the first media timeout of the second stanza, but that lead would balloon to 24 thanks to some improved play as the half wore on. Brevin Pritzl and Aleem Ford in particular played extremely well to help secure the win.

Over the final seven minutes, Ohio State was able to trim the deficit, but ultimately it was the Badgers who would triumph by 13 despite a long scoring drought towards the end of the game.

Notable stat lines:

  • Brevin Pritzl —> 19 points (7-of-13 from the floor), two assists, five rebounds
  • Aleem Ford —> 10 points (3-of-8 from the floor), nine rebounds, three assists
  • D’Mitrik Trice —> eight points (3-of-8 from the floor), eight assists, three rebounds
  • Andre Wesson (Ohio State) —> 11 points (3-of-7 from the floor), four rebounds

Three things that stood out:

No. 1: Heavy bench press

While Micah Potter’s emergence into the starting lineup was notable, it was the bench that shined against Ohio State. The Badgers got significant contributions from Trevor Anderson, Brevin Pritzl and Tyler Wahl at various times in the game. In the first half alone, the trio combined for 16 bench points on 5-of-10 shooting. On the day, the Badgers were paced by some stellar three-point shooting by the Pretzel Man himself who was a balmy 5-of-6 from deep.

For the game, the Badger bench would turn in 30 points, eight rebounds and three assists. For a team that has large runs and huge droughts, a strong bench output each game can go a long way in providing more consistency.

No. 2: Passing the torch

The Wisconsin offense was all over the place against Ohio State. One consistent trend though was when the ball movement was there, the Badgers scored. When Wisconsin instead attempted isolation scoring, they floundered.

For the game, Wisconsin finished with 16 assists, greatly above their league low 11.7 per game. One of the key differentials in the Badgers success this season has been passing. Wisconsin is undefeated on the season when they have more than 13 assists. Now, that statistic is misleading, because a key component of assists is making shots, but passing has been a crucial aspect all year long. In games when the Badgers are under their 11 assist threshold average, they are 4-7.

If the Badgers want to overcome their scoring droughts away from the Kohl Center, the recipe should start with strong defense, and a heightened focus on ball movement.

No. 3: 2000 reunion

In a very cool moment, the Kohl Center welcomed back the 2000 men’s basketball team that went to the Final Four. Headlined by the return of former coach Dick Bennett, the team was recognized at halftime with a touching tribute that drew a huge applause.

In honor of Bennett, the fans brought back the tradition of standing until the opposing team scored. The Buckeyes would ultimately score on their third possession, but it was a fitting salute to the former coach. Ten of the 15 players were able to be in attendance, each introduced to a standing crowd, but the biggest applause was definitely for head coach Dick Bennett.

Up next: The Badgers will have an extended break in action this week, as they take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers Saturday afternoon at 1:15 p.m. CST on BTN in Lincoln.