MADISON, Wis. — The last time Ohio State came to the Kohl Center, unseasonably warm weather allowed a pregame walk-through on the roof of a parking garage. It was December 2017, and the Buckeyes would make Chris Holtmann the first coach in school history to win his Big Ten debut and first road game simultaneously with a 25-point blowout.
This was not that.
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Sunday afternoon, Ohio State saw its three-game winning streak snapped, as well as its chance to climb back to .500 in Big Ten play. Wisconsin (14-10, 7-6) earned a season sweep of the Buckeyes (15-8, 5-7), leading by as many as 24 points in a 70-57 win.
"It certainly wasn’t a step forward, that’s for sure," Holtmann said.
The Badgers seized control just past the midpoint of the first half. When Brevin Pritzl answered a banked-in Andre Wesson three-pointer to pull Wisconsin within 13-10 with 10:17 to play, it ignited a game-changing run for the Badgers. Starting there, Wisconsin scored on 12 of its final 17 possessions of the half to build an insurmountable 38-20 halftime lead against an Ohio State defense that couldn’t seem to locate open shooters.
After Wesson’s third three-pointer of the game pulled the Buckeyes within 22-20 with 4:37 to play in the half, Wisconsin closed with a 16-0 run, capped by a run of three straight three-pointers, to blow the game open. Ohio State missed its final five shots and committed three turnovers during the stretch.
Wisconsin would build its lead to as many as 24 points in the second half, and only a late 14-2 run with the final outcome long decided allowed the Buckeyes to avoid their most lopsided loss of the season.
"Any time you get down like that in a game, it’s hard," said Wesson, who had a team-high 11 points. "You’ve got to keep fighting back. I think our guys did fight back towards the end. We just couldn’t keep it rolling."
It was a regression on multiple fronts for the Buckeyes, who had started to distance themselves from a stretch of six losses in seven games in part by taking better care of the ball and playing with increased toughness. Five days removed from committing a season-low eight turnovers in a gritty road win at Michigan, the Buckeyes had nine by halftime and finished with 14.
A Wisconsin team ranked next-to-last in offensive rebounds in Big Ten play pulled down 12 against the Buckeyes, giving it a 15-7 advantage in second-chance points. It’s the most second-chance points scored by the Badgers all season.
"We just have not pursued it and chased it with enough urgency (against Wisconsin)," Holtmann said. "Obviously it was a major concern going into the game, but we just didn’t answer the bell on that today."
Wisconsin center Micah Potter, an Ohio State transfer, made his first career start for the Badgers and finished with nine points and five rebounds. Ohio State’s two leading scorers entering the game, Kaleb Wesson and Duane Washington Jr., shot 2 of 11 and 2 of 8, respectively, from the field, and each went 0 of 4 on three-point attempts.