INDIANAPOLIS - The Buckeyes trailed for nearly 36 minutes of Friday's game against Wisconsin at the Big Ten tournament but when it got down to brass tacks the Buckeyes led at the only time that it mattered, when the final horn sounded. Evan Turner had 13 of his 19 points in the second half and Jeremie Simmons hit a pair of clinching free throws with seven seconds left in the game to give Ohio State a hard-fought 61-57 win and a ticket with Michigan State in the semifinals.
The last time these two teams met the Badgers outrebounded the Buckeyes by nine boards but on Friday both teams were dead-even on the glass and that helped the Buckeyes establish more of a presence down low.
"We did a pretty good job rebounding the basketball," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. "About the 12 minutes mark in the second half I told these guys Wisconsin right now has all the juice, they've got all the energy. The last eight minutes somehow, someway we've got to get that back."
With less than six minutes to go Jason Bohannon nailed a three pointer to put the Badgers up by a game high seven points, 54-47 and It appeared that Ohio State's run at the tourney might end after one game.
But the Buckeyes battled back with Turner hitting a couple of clutch buckets and then a Jon Diebler three pointer at the 2:22 mark gave the Buckeyes their first lead since the 11:36 mark of the half.
"It was just a great read by Evan," Diebler said. "I think what set it up was how aggressive he was the last five or six possessions going to the basket. When he's being aggressive it gives the defense a choice. He made the right read and I just was thankful for knocking it down.
Marcus Landry would hit one of two free throws for the Badgers to knot it back up at 55-all but that is as close as Wisconsin would get the rest of the way. Turner took it to the rack with less than a minute to put the Buckeyes up by two and then P.J. Hill hit one of his two free throw attempts to make it a three point lead.
With less than 20 seconds left Bohannon let a three go and couldn't find the mark and the Badgers were forced to foul. Hill hit one of two free throws again to make it a two possession game but Wisconsin was not ready to give up yet. Bohannon hit both shots on a one-and-one and it all came down to Simmons hitting two free throws to give the Buckeyes the four point win.
Ohio State ended up closing out the game with a 14-3 run to eek out the victory and to atone for a close loss in Madison (Wis.).
"I think today we finished possessions a lot better than we did when we played at Wisconsin," Diebler said. "We knew Wisconsin was going to go to the glass and they send four guys to the glass and they're big."
But there is not time to let the guard down.
"Congratulations, we beat a great team in Wisconsin," Matta said. "You've got Michigan State tomorrow. It's sort of been that way."