Don’t feel bad Thad Matta, Jim Tressel feels you right now.
After yesterday’s 71-67 defeat against Wisconsin at Kohl Center the basketball buckeyes shared a similar result with the football buckeyes, being the number one team in the land and losing it to the Badgers.
However, unlike Tressel’s troops Matta’s men were in control from the start.
The Buckeyes broke Wisconsin’s slow down tempo and buried them with a barrage of threes and inside scoring. Willie Buford found his stroke with 21 points and Jared Sullinger was his usual immoveable self
After taking a two point lead into halftime the Buckeyes exploded coming out of the tunnel by finishing off a 24-6 that continued from the first half and built up a 47-32 lead with 13 minutes to go. They seemed destined to finish off the Badgers and roll into a Tuesday matchup with Michigan State unscathed.
Then Jordan Taylor found his stroke.
Taylor led a 15-0 run by scoring eight straight points as part of a monstrous second half that saw him drop 21 of his game high 27points. After Buckeyes point guard Aaron Craft knocked down two free throws to give the OSU the lead again Taylor led another 10-0 to put the Badgers up for good.
Taylor wasn’t alone in his efforts. Freshman Josh Gasser and Sophomore Mike Bruesewitz knocked down clutch threes in crunch time and the defense finally was able to slow down the Buckeyes. In all the Badgers shot 12-24 from three and the Buckeyes inability to stop them is what did them in.
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes if you look at the stat sheet that was the only statistic that favored Wisconsin. OSU had more rebounds, assists, less turnovers and shots 55% from the field. If you tell any coach in America those stats then almost 95% of them would expect a victory. Unfortunately for OSU that wasn’t the case.
Their main issues yesterday were lack of bench production and Craft’s overall play. For the first time in his excellent freshman year Craft looked like a freshman as his skittish play caused more problems than they fixed. If Craft is hitting a wall then that’s going to be a big problem as OSU doesn’t have another point guard that can match his production or can have the same effect on the game as he can.
With six games left including a visit to West Lafayette next Sunday, the Buckeyes have to correct their mistakes from yesterday and get back on track. Kansas or Texas will unseat them at number 1 and both teams are red hot as is Pittsburgh and Duke. The Buckeyes looked like the best team in the country 48 hours ago, now they have their backs against the wall, teams breathing down their necks and flaws to fix. This is their make or break stretch that will prove if this team is a real title contender or just another year away.
The good thing for them is that they don’t face the same fate that the football Buckeyes did. That October loss at Camp Randall effectively ended a BCS title run and relegated them to a non-factor for the rest of the year. This setback only costs these Buckeyes a game and a little bit of doubt that they can overcome on a possible title run. That’s good for them, the bad thing is when it comes to being number 1 in the country Ohio State should avoid Madison, Wisconsin at all costs. Hopefully the hockey, women’s basketball and baseball teams don’t have to make this trip anytime soon because it won’t be pretty.