Buckeyes get a big win over Badgers
Jared Sullinger wore out Wisconsin. Then William Buford put the Badgers away.
No. 3 Ohio State wasn’t going to give No. 19 Wisconsin a shot at another comeback.
Sullinger scored 24 points and Buford hit a critical 3-pointer down the stretch, helping the Buckeyes beat the Badgers 58-52 on Saturday.
Sullinger was shocked when he wasn’t double-teamed on defense to start the game, and he pounced immediately.
“I don’t think I saw single coverage since first part of the season of my freshman year,” Sullinger said. “When I saw that, I got excited. I decided to go to work.”
Deshaun Thomas scored 16 points and Buford added 11 for the Buckeyes (20-3, 8-2 Big Ten), who held onto their lead in the conference standings. Sullinger also had 10 rebounds.
With the victory, Ohio State ended a nine-game losing streak to Wisconsin in Madison — and avoided a repeat of last year’s comeback by the Badgers, who erased a second-half deficit to defeat the Buckeyes 71-67.
“What happened last year is last year,” said Sullinger, who became the 48th Ohio State player to score 1,000 career points. “We won, and that was the main goal.”
Ryan Evans scored 14 points for the Badgers (18-6, 7-4), who were 5 for 27 from 3-point range.
Inconsistent 3-point shooting — and a failure to find other ways to score — has dogged the Badgers. But that didn’t mean Ohio State coach Thad Matta was happy to see Wisconsin put up so many 3s.
“I was nervous as hell every time they let it go,” Matta said.
The Badgers had no early answer for Sullinger. He scored the Buckeyes’ first nine points, consistently getting the best of the player assigned to defend him, Jared Berggren. Sullinger finished the first half with 16 points.
“I let him get a couple of easy ones early, and that set the tone,” Berggren said. “A great player like him, once he gets a little bit of confidence, he’s hard to stop. A lot of it came early on. I let him get going. I’ve got to take a little blame myself for that one.”
Trailing 47-40 with 6:22 left, Wisconsin went on a 10-4 run, cutting Ohio State’s lead to one on a 3-pointer by Mike Bruesewitz with 3:46 left.
But Sullinger came up with a steal, and Buford hit a 3-pointer on the other end to give the Buckeyes a 54-50 lead with 2:27 left. It was the only 3-pointer the Buckeyes hit all day.