On Thursday night in Columbus, the No. 16 Wisconsin Badgers fell to the unranked Ohio State Buckeyes, 83-73. The final score doesn’t represent how much OSU dominated this game, and it represented the Badgers’ third loss in four games. A disparity in points from the free throw line and rebounding hurt Wisconsin in this one, while Bronson Koenig and D’Mitrik Trice provided a couple positive notes in the loss.
Free throw/rebounding opportunities
For most of the contest, this game wasn’t close, as Wisconsin only led for just over a minute in the whole game. That being said, the Badgers only lost by 10.
Watching the game, and especially the second half, one would likely figure three-point shooting was the big difference. But actually, Wisconsin both made and attempted more three-pointers.
What really hurt the favored Wisconsin team was shots from the charity stripe. The Badgers shot a disappointing 67% from the line, while the Buckeyes shot a terrific 85%. In addition, Ohio State made 23 free throws, while Wisconsin made just 10.
Much of this was because Wisconsin scored over half of their total points (39) from behind the three-point line, generating fewer fouls than shots within the arc.
Ohio State followed the blueprint of Northwestern and Michigan to defeat these Badgers, double-teaming Ethan Happ and forcing the Badgers to take jump shots. With this game plan, Wisconsin didn’t drive the ball as much, hence, shooting just 15 free throws.
In addition to -13 on the free throw line disparity, the Badgers were also -13 on the boards, 38-25.
Happ, the leading rebounder for the Badgers on the season, barely played half of the game due to foul trouble.
Also, the Buckeyes didn’t give a lot of chances for rebounds, as they made 50% of their shots from the field, and an impressive 63% from deep.
When a team gets dominated from the line and on the boards, it’s tough to get a win in the Big Ten on the road.
On the positive side
There were a couple positives to pull out of this awful game, including Bronson Koenig and D’Mitrik Trice.
After nearly four full seasons playing for the Wisconsin Badgers, Koenig became the school’s all-time leader in three-pointers made, breaking Ben Brust’s previous record of 235.
Along with that, Koenig delivered a season high 27 points on 15 shot attempts, and looked very much like the player that helped lead Wisconsin to the Sweet Sixteen last season.
Another point guard, freshman D’Mitrik Trice, performed very efficiently, scoring 14 points on just nine shot attempts, grabbing four rebounds and committing no turnovers in 18 minutes.
If the Badgers get out of this slump, Trice will likely play a big role, as the Ohio native is a calming presence in just his first year, generally making good decisions out on the floor and tallying points for a struggling offense.
After losing three of four, and the Big Ten lead, Wisconsin looks to turn things around on Sunday in East Lansing, where the Badgers will face a streaky Michigan State Spartans team.