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After Wisconsin’s pummeling of Ohio State Saturday at the
Kohl Center, Buckeye head coach Jim O’Brien gave the crux of his team’s defeat
in four simple words.
“Great defense by Wisconsin,” he said.
Ohio State’s 63.7 points a contest is not much of an
offensive threat in the Big Ten but Wisconsin made sure they did not come close
to that average. The Buckeyes were held to their second lowest tally of the
season in a 78-48 Badger win.
Though Wisconsin’s overall defensive performance was among
its best of the season, it did not start out so smooth in the first half. The
Buckeyes came out utilizing the lob pass in hopes of finding open looks for
senior center Velimir Radinovic and sophomore forward Terence Dials. Junior
forward Mike Wilkinson and sophomore forward Andreas Helmigk played big on the
inside but Radinovic and Dials scored four a piece in the paint heading into
half time. At that point, Ohio State had 16 points in the paint compared to
“I thought we were aggressive offensively,” O’Brien said.
“We were trying to get the ball inside, we were trying to go to the basket. We
didn’t change anything that we hoped to do offensively.”
Though the Buckeyes made no adjustments, the second half
saw different results for their offense. They continued to take attempt the lob
pass but were pressured more on the inside thanks to Wilkinson, who was forced
to cover both Radinovic and Dials at different times. His presence created a
significant roadblock for Ohio State’s offense, which faltered as the game
unwound. Wilkinson finished with a game-high three steals and he helped force
Radinovic into five turnovers. Dials was held to two points in the second half
and Radinovic was scoreless and did not even find a shot attempt.
“If they wanted to keep doing the lob we were just going to
try and keep playing our defense,” Wilkinson said. “If we could get a hand on
it, we got a hand on it…they got a couple times early which I think gave them a
little bit of confidence but we got the job done in the second half.”
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan also knew that the Buckeyes
could not depend on their high-low offense for the entire game.
“There’s a very fine line between a completion of a
high-low,” Ryan said. “If it was so easy people would do it 25-30 times a game.
You’ve got pressure on the passer; you’ve got pressure on the catcher. As a game
wears on your legs get worn down a little bit, sometimes your decision making is
not the same … if they want to throw it they can throw it. Completing it and
getting something out of it; that’s something different.”
Ohio State connected on just 6 of 24 field goals in the
second half. Buckeye guard Tony Stockman led the team in scoring during the past
three games with 17-, 22- and 18-point performances and only needed four more
points to reach the 1,000-point milestone in his career. He failed to produce
offensively on this night, though, going 1-for-11 for just three points.
“They committed to some things with the post (defense),”
Ryan said regarding his team’s performance in the second half. “They committed
to not allowing a whole lot of second shots and they committed to not allowing
dribble penetration. If you do that you’ve got a chance.”
The Buckeyes tried to reciprocate Wisconsin’s defense but
had trouble containing not only junior guard Devin Harris (33 points) but
Wilkinson’s all-around game. Early in the first half, Dials picked up two quick
fouls while trying to defend Wilkinson. The first came while he was trying to
collapse in the lane; the second came on an over the back call. Dials ended up
committing two more fouls. Wilkinson did everything from working the middle to
hitting his outside shot. He ended up with 14 points on 2 of 5 from the floor
and 9 of 10 from the charity stripe.
Radinovic was also getting frustrated on the defensive end.
The 7 footer fouled out of the game with three minutes and 41 seconds remaining
after he tried to stop Harris on a fast break. Radinovic marched to the bench
but before sitting down showed his frustrating with an obscene gesture directed
towards the Wisconsin student section.
All in all, the Badgers’ defensive performance was
something that has been in the works all season. Ryan knows what the team is
capable of on the defensive end and will look to carry on the performance when
they hit the hostile road next week.
“Our players defensively did what we talked about doing for
the past two days and that’s a nice sign,” Ryan said. “That kind of response is
good. They moved their feet, they chased on the shooters… they stuck with the
rules pretty well.”
Home sweet home
- game story
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