COLUMBUS - The Buckeyes know what it is like to play without Evan Turner for long stretches and even while Turner was on the bench with a pair of first half fouls Ohio State (13-5, 3-3) more than made up for it. David Lighty had 18 points and William Buford had 12 rebounds as the Buckeyes got a measure of revenge against Wisconsin (14-4, 4-2) to split the series with a 60-51 win.
Turner ended up with 15 points for the game but he really wasn't the story of the game as the Buckeyes held the Badgers to 22 points in the first half and managed to take advantage of opportunity after opportunity with Wisconsin center Jon Leuer out of the lineup.
"Not having have ten-plus points and five-plus rebounds is going to make them a different team," Lighty said.
Ohio State broke its tendency to put up the three ball and only attempted six shots from outside the arc which is five less than its next lowest game (at Purdue attempting 11). Even without Leuer in the lineup for the Badgers the Bucks knew that they would have to make adjustments to the game plan and find different ways to score.
"They really guard the three well with their size and it was more of trying to get inside the defense as much as we could which is very, very hard against Wisconsin." Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said.
On the flipside the Badgers attempted 26 shots from beyond the arc including 17 in the second half. For all of their efforts they were only able to connect on nine of them. But the Badgers were forced to take what the Bucks were giving them and on this particular night it was from outside.
"We had a lot of good open looks from outside," Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. "They squeezed inside pretty well and teams have done that to us and we have hit the threes. If the shots are not going down from the perimeter (it is bad)."
The Buckeyes have learned this season what it is like to live by the three and die by the three and tonight it was the Badgers who fell on the sword.
Was it part of the game plan however to specifically drive to the hole and abandon the three.
"Our game plan what to execute our offense, whatever the coaches called it was to get a bucket. I thought we did it because we shot 50-plus from the field and we were getting good looks and good shots."
The game plan however didn't read for prolonged minutes without Turner in the lineup but unfortunately for the Buckeye that was just what happened before the second media timeout ever happened. When Turner went out of the game the Bucks were trailing by one and at halftime not only did the weather the storm but they managed to build a 12 point lead.
Ohio State has had to go these stretches before obviously but Matta was making sure to have a backup plan in case the floor dropped from beneath it.