(Photo courtesy dispatch.com. Game information courtesy OhioStateBuckeyes.com, ESPN.com)

That was pretty bad much, much better basketball.

Ohio State (16-13, 6-10) outmatched  #16 (for now) Wisconsin (22-6, 11-4) 83-73 in VCA  Thursday evening. This was a marked improvement from the Nebraska game. The Buckeyes had much better ball handling, otherworldly good shooting and sustained hustle and effort. OK, they did slack off the final five minutes or so, but at that point, they were up 20 points and this game was pretty much in the bag. Look, at the 4:39 mark, OSU was up 20 points. With that much time on the clock, you’re only going to see 5-6 possessions per team. No way OSU was going to lose at that point.

In the first meeting this season, the Buckeyes were trampled in Madison, 89-66 – a serious beat down. This win on Thursday probably salved those wounds, validated another Thad “talking point” (goddamn it, hustle!) and maybe threw some sand in Wisconsin’s post season gears. What wasn’t to like about the game?

The Buckeyes had four players score in double digits; C.J. Jackson (18 points), JaQuan Lyle (17), Jae’Sean Tate (15 points) and Marc Loving (10).Tate double-doubled by getting a game high 12 rebounds. In fact, Jae’Sean had his double-double (13-10) at halftime. Also in fact, this is the 2nd consecutive game where Jae’Sean led all (not just team) rebounders. JST is clearly tired of this nonsense.

The Badgers had two double-digit scorers; Bronson Koenig (27 points – a season high) and D’Mitrik Trice (14 – Ohioan and brother of MSU’s Travis Trice). Ethan Happ led Wisconsin in rebounding with 6 rebounds.

Thoughts and opinions…

  • First things first; Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig is one hell of a basketball player. In two games against Ohio State this season, he has scored 48 points. This season vs Ohio State, Koenig is 16-27 from the field, 10-16 from 3-point range, 6-6 FT shooting and has 4 assists to 3 turnovers. Clearly, he is a very talented player. You have to almost concede he’ll get his points, you need to shut down his team mates.
  • Voila! Thad and (I believe his “defensive coordinator” Greg Paulus) concocted a double team strategy to neutralize Wisconsin’s post game (Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes). It worked; in the first meeting this season, Happ/Hayes scored 21 points. Thursday, they combined for 11, 10 points less, which was OSU’s winning margin…
  • Jae’Sean Tate was incredible. Forget the stats – no, you can’t because they were significant – but look at his play. He was diving for loose balls, slapping the ball away on defense and generally “playing the game”. Nothing contrived, he was just playing with fervor.
  • I thought Ohio State got decent performance from the post position. Trevor Thompson and Micah Potter combined for 12 points and 9 rebounds. To no one’s surprise, they  were whistled for 7 fouls, 4 on Trevor and 3 on Micah. I think Micah is getting ‘whistled’ because he just hasn’t developed the anticipation needed on defense. He’s just a step too late. Don’t worry it’ll come.  To be blunt, I think Trevor is getting screwed via ‘referee bias’. There were at least two fouls called on him that IMO were not fouls or were fouls on the Badgers. He’s getting a bum rap.
  • Way above in the article I mentioned Ohio State’s torrid shooting. Their 83 points was the most in B1G play for them. Their shooting percentages of 50% (overall), 62% (3-pt) and 85% (free throw) are absolutely astounding. CJ Jackson, who I think has been a pretty sketchy shooter to date, was 4-4 from 3-point range and 7-11 overall.
  • JaQuan came off the bench to score 17 points. He was only 3-8 from the field, but 10-10 from the free throw line.  The thing to note is that he got his 10 FTs because he was aggressively attacking the basket. If nothing else, Thad should show this video to the team.

Ohio State has two remaining games in the regular season. They have one, maybe two games in the B1G Tourney. This team could finish at .500 for the year or it could be (another) 20 win season for Thad. Tune in to find out. No one said this was going to be easy.

Up Next

The Buckeyes travel to central PA next week to play the Penn State Nittany Lions (14-14. 6-9) on Tuesday February 28th.. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 pm EST. The game can be seen on BTN and/or you can listen to it on 97.1.