Thomas powers OSU over Wisconsin
In the middle of the hand-to-hand combat that is a typical Wisconsin-Ohio State game, Deshaun Thomas took over.
The junior scored 25 points, including 10 during a game-breaking, 15-point second-half run, to lead the 11th-ranked Buckeyes past the Badgers, 58-49, on Tuesday night.
“That’s easily the best player we’ve played because of how he can get his own shots,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “Thomas is good. He was tough on the two-point jump shots — real tough — and around the basket. He can attack. He’s so strong.”
The 6-foot-7 junior, averaging 20 points a game, hit 10 of 17 attempts from the field including a variety of step-back jumpers, slashes through the lane and shots he muscled over defenders. He also had four assists in what coach Thad Matta called his finest game with the Buckeyes.
“Without a doubt, this is probably right there at the top just because of his overall effectiveness,” Matta said. “He was also very good defensively as well.”
Wisconsin had controlled the tempo with deliberate passing, finding the open man, and making 11 of 28 3-point attempts.
With Ohio State (16-4, 6-2 Big Ten) trailing 41-39 with 11:26 left, Thomas took over.
Thomas’ fake and 10-foot jumper over Ryan Evans tied it at 41, with Thomas then giving the Buckeyes the lead on a drive through the lane and finger roll after Evans had been called for a charge at the other end.
It didn’t stop there, as the Buckeyes’ defense stepped up the pressure to force bad shots while the offense started clicking.
During the 15-0 run that went from the 13:01 mark to under 6 minutes left, the Badgers were 0 for 7 from the field with three turnovers as everything went Ohio State’s way.
Thomas hit another basket, this time on a drive, before LaQuinton Ross popped in a 3 from the left wing. Thomas then took a pass from Shannon Scott on the fast break and cut in for a layup. While Wisconsin continued to misfire at the other end, Thomas then jousted with Evans, forcing him to step back before hitting a soft, fall-away 16-footer to push the lead to 52-41 and bringing a crowd of 16,911 to its feet.
Thomas said Matta had said the Buckeyes, who shot 64 percent from the field in the second half, had to be more forceful. The transition game during the 15-0 run was a prime example.
“Coach said we’ve got to be aggressive, get out in transition. Play our style of game,” he said. “We knew that Wisconsin wanted to slow it down but we had to get out there and punch them in the mouth and start it with a fast tempo. And that’s what we did.”