MADISON — On Thursday night the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers avenged an 18-point loss to Ohio State with a 10-point win over the No. 16 Buckeyes. The Badgers not only improved to 14-2 on the season and 5-1 in Big Ten play with the win but also hit on over 40% from three-point range for the first time since the Marquette game.
Let’s dig into a trio of takeaways from the big conference win.
Wisconsin men’s basketball: #Badgers get sweet revenge against Ohio State— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) January 14, 2022
Tyler Wahl and Brad Davison picked up the slack for Johnny Davis and UW bullied the Buckeyes. https://t.co/SlM64kG4eI pic.twitter.com/NZwNWCWH8y
Three things that stood out:
No. 1: Liddell vs. Wahl
Coming into the night one of the storylines to watch was how the Badgers would account for OSU star forward E.J. Liddell. The junior big man absolutely tore through the Badgers when these two teams met back on December 11 and came into Thursday’s game averaging 20 points per contest. In the first half, Liddell was unable to get going, as he was outplayed by fellow junior Tyler Wahl.
After only managing three points the first go-round against Liddell, Wahl put together a stat-stuffing performance in the first 20 minutes on Thursday with 12 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two steals while being the primary defender responsible for Liddell.
Liddell would turn it around in the second half though, and go on to finish with his customary 18 point stat line before fouling out. However, the effort by Wahl on both ends of the court was absolutely huge for Wisconsin as he outscored and out-rebounded Liddell in the game.
In his last five games, all wins, Wahl is averaging 15 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. If he can continue this level of play the rest of the season, Wisconsin becomes all the more dangerous come tournament time.
Tyler Wahl on what they did to slow down EJ Liddell, specifically in the first half… pic.twitter.com/ARSFTaBP7W— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) January 14, 2022
No. 2: Three-point changeup
The Badgers struggled from behind the arc in the second half against Maryland. As a team, they shot only 11% from long-range, and it played a role in Maryland’s huge comeback to make it interesting late in the game. Well, their fortune from three drastically changed in the first half against Ohio State, with six different players connecting from deep and 7-of-13 shooting as a team.
Ohio State on the other hand was ice cold. The Buckeyes missed all eight of their three-point attempts in the first half and opened the second half missing their first two shots from deep as well. For the game, Wisconsin finished shooting 43% from downtown, only their third 40% shooting performance of the season, and first since early December.
In a game where Johnny Davis was blanketed by multiple Ohio State defenders every time he touched the ball, the rest of the team’s hot shooting from three played an important role in the victory. The Badgers came into the game shooting just under 30% from three, so hopefully, this performance can help them gain confidence behind the arc, Wahl specifically.
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann’s opening statement following the game tonight: pic.twitter.com/wm7lgLELWI— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) January 14, 2022
No. 3: Turnovers and assists
Ohio State only turned the ball over 11 times, which is actually a little less than their average this season. However, Wisconsin did a tremendous job of taking advantage of those mistakes. The Badgers added 16 points following those turnovers and were +8 in that category. In the Big Ten, those types of swings can ultimately change the game, and it played a key role Thursday night.
Wisconsin also played a very unselfish brand of basketball against Ohio State. Four different Badgers recorded at least two assists, with Wahl adding a team-high six. Wisconsin did a great job of finding the open man from the post which benefited the outside shooting.
Greg Gard has mentioned multiple times working inside out this season, and against Ohio State, they did that routinely. The Badgers have not been an exceptionally strong shooting group at times this season, but they are definitely not selfish. High assist numbers usually are a strong indicator of how well an offense is getting what they want in the flow of the game. Wisconsin got theirs the second time around against Ohio State.
Gard on what changed since the 18-point loss in Columbus pic.twitter.com/y3XcGnPkw1— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) January 14, 2022
Up next: The Badgers will head to Northwestern next for a contest with the Wildcats on Tuesday, January 18. Tip time is set for 8 p.m. CT and the game will be aired on BTN.