2012 Ohio State Basketball
Buckeyes Beat Badgers in Madison
Ohio State head coach Thad Matta has enjoyed plenty of success throughout his tenure in Columbus, but it seems that each season there has always been a constant thorn in his side... playing in Madison, Wisconsin.
On Saturday, the 3rd ranked Buckeyes ended a nine-game losing streak to Wisconsin in Madison with a gritty 58-52 victory against the 20th ranked Badgers.
Matta got clutch performances from his two leaders, senior William Buford and All-American Jared Sullinger.
Sullinger wore out Wisconsin bucketing 24 points to go along with 10 rebounds while Buford put the Badgers away with his deadly shooting stroke, nailing a critical 3-pointer down the stretch.
Sullinger was very surprised when he wasn't double-teamed on defense to start the game, and he took advantage immediately.
With Sullinger dominating in the paint, it allowed Deshaun Thomas and Buford to work their magic on the perimeter.
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.
Ryan Evans scored 14 points for the Badgers (18-6, 7-4), who were a putrid 5-for-27 from beyond-the-arc.
With the loss, Wisconsin has lost four home games in a season for the first time under Badgers head coach Bo Ryan.
Ryan's game plan to single coverage Sullinger may have been the difference in the ballgame.
"Bo Ryan is a great coach, I'm sure he had a strategy that he knew he was going to work," Buford said. "Me personally, I don't think you should put just one person on (Jared). That's just me personally."
Trailing 47-40 with 6:22 left, Wisconsin went on a 10-4 run, cutting Ohio State's lead to one on a triple by Mike Bruesewitz with 3:46 remaining.
"We told our guys through that stretch we were playing with fire," Matta said.
But it was Sullinger's day, the sophomore sensation came up with a big steal, and Buford hit a 3-pointer on the other end to give the Buckeyes a 54-50 lead with 2:27 left. Although Buford hasn't had one of his best season's shooting the basketball, the Buckeyes still can count on his poise in crunch time.
"I've got great faith in William," Matta said. "That was a big, big-time shot for us."
Just how big was that triple by Buford? It was the only 3-pointer the Buckeyes hit all day, as they went an uncharacteristic 1-for-7 from downtown. Until then, they were in danger of going without a made 3-pointer for the first time since a loss at Penn State on Jan. 10, 2004.
Not only did Buford and Sullinger make big plans in the victory, but they also set some personal marks in the process.
Buford's 11 points moved him into 7th place on the Ohio State all-time scored list with 1,766 career points.
Meanwhile, Sullinger's 24 points gives him 1,000 career points and becomes the 48th Buckeye to reach the 1,000 point plateau.
With the big road victory, the Buckeyes get to travel back to Columbus for a pair of home games against the Purdue Boilermakers and the 10th ranked Michigan State Spartans this coming week.
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