From the first jump to the final buzzer, the No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers controlled the Ohio State Buckeyes in almost every aspect of the game on Thursday night. Two big reasons the Badgers got back on the winning track were high percentage shooting and contribution from many players; however, there is still room for improvement with free throw shooting for this team.
In the simplest form, basketball is a game of makes and misses. And in Big Ten play, the conference known for low scoring and physical play, this simplicity remains true. Wisconsin dominated this facet against Ohio State, and it wasn’t even close. The Badgers shot 49% overall and 55% from deep against the Buckeyes, which are both gaudy numbers. On the other side, Ohio State shot under 40% overall, and only 25% from deep. Pair the shooting disparities with the rebounding numbers in the game (44-31 in favor of Wisconsin) and the advantage is clear. What really hurt Ohio State, though, was the incredible offensive rebounding prowess of the Badgers. The team not only grabbed a whopping 21 boards off the offensive glass, but if that wasn’t enough, Wisconsin scored on 57% of the possessions in which they had missed their first shot, which will generally get the job done, especially in the rough and tough Big Ten.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
In addition to being efficient and making the most of nearly every possession Thursday, the Badgers also had 11 different players in the scoring column. In fact, every player that played at least four minutes for Wisconsin scored, compared to eight players scoring for Ohio State. The true tale of the tape, along with ball movement and unselfish play, was bench production. It was clear fairly early that the Badgers were going to get back on the winning track in this home matchup, but points off the bench have been somewhat of a concern for this experienced Wisconsin team. The home team dominated in that category. Badger non-starters contributed 31 of the team’s 89 points. As Wisconsin’s bench success continues, so does the overall play of the team, which is a key as we slowly inch closer to tournament season in March.
FREE THROW WOES
Wisconsin won this game handily, and every player on the active roster got minutes, so it was not the most competitive game by any means, especially for a Buckeyes-Badgers matchup. Furthermore, Wisconsin really impressed with their efficiency on offense, as well as rebounding and perimeter defense against Ohio State. Overall, it was a better than solid performance. That being said, the Badgers have high expectations for themselves, and their free throw issues cannot be overlooked. Not only did the team put up less free throw attempts than the Buckeyes, but Wisconsin shot a horrific 33% (5/15) from the charity stripe at the Kohl Center. Games get a lot closer as the season heats up, and that shooting from the free throw line simply will not win big games for the team.