His former alma mater was playing over the speakers, and Micah Potter couldn’t get out of there soon enough.
An Ohio native who spent his first two seasons with Ohio State before transferring to Wisconsin, Potter and his Badgers teammates had just finished a 61-57 upset of the fifth-ranked Buckeyes on the court he had formerly called home. Heading toward the hallway to the visitors’ locker room, a jubilant Potter clutched a white towel in his left hand and let it all out.
“We got that freaking dub!” he shouted.
That they did, despite the best efforts of the player Potter used to back up. Ohio State junior center Kaleb Wesson finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season and moved past the 1,000-point career scoring mark, but Ohio State (11-3, 1-2 Big Ten) took its second consecutive loss because the Badgers (9-5, 2-1) proved the better team in crunch time.
Playing without junior forward Kyle Young, who missed his first game after undergoing an appendectomy Sunday, the Buckeyes offense grew stagnant like it did five days prior against West Virginia in Cleveland.
At one point, Wesson scored nine straight points for the Buckeyes during the early portion of the second half, helping to carry things when a hot start sputtered. Ohio State scored on six straight possessions out of the locker room, putting together a 13-2 run and building a 38-31 lead before the Badgers called a timeout to stem the tide.
They would creep back into the game, take the lead for good with 1:54 to play and hold on as Wesson was able to attempt just one shot in the final 5:55 of the game.
“I felt like I was a force so much in the game that they were collapsing and guys had to help off my other teammates,” Wesson said. “My other teammates, we trust them hitting shots, and we were looking for them.”
On this night, nobody else was hitting their shots. Sophomore guard Duane Washington had 18 points on 6-of-19 shooting, and coach Chris Holtmann said he didn’t like roughly five of those shot attempts. Ohio State’s other seven players to see action combined for only 17 points as the Buckeyes have been held to fewer than 60 points in consecutive games.
“Two good teams,” a terse Holtmann said of the losses. “League play. It’s incumbent upon us as coaches and players to figure it out and get better with it. Obviously no one likes this feeling.”
Wesson entered the night second on the team in three-point attempts and leading the Buckeyes in scoring but didn’t attempt a three-pointer until 11:31 remained in the game. Much like a season ago, he took control by asserting his presence on the block and getting to the free-throw line.
But when the Badgers were able to take him away late, Ohio State couldn’t answer.
“Confident we’ve got guys who can step up and not be so reliant on Kaleb, but he generated a lot on offense tonight,” Holtmann said.