first_imgThe University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team overcame a horrendous night of free throw shooting to pull away from the Ohio State Buckeyes Thursday night in a 79-68 victory.The win was the Badgers’ (14-9, 6-4 Big Ten) fifth in a row, as the team continues to recover from a slow start to conference play. This one didn’t come easy, but to start, it looked like it might.Wisconsin jumped out to an early 11-0 lead on the back of Vitto Brown, who scored seven of the Badgers’ first 11 points. But faster than you could say JaQuan Lyle, that lead was gone, as the freshman not only brought the Buckeyes (14-10, 6-5) back into the game, but carried them throughout the remainder of the half, scoring 18 of the team’s 32 points in the first 20 minutes. Lyle finished the game with a game-high 27 points.“We talk a lot about not giving a team or individual confidence, and right off the bat, we let [Lyle] come off the first ball screen and go right to the rim,” head coach Greg Gard said. “Good players do that. They feed off that when you get a couple easy ones.”Despite Lyle’s first-half onslaught, Wisconsin managed to keep their lead thanks to their three-point shooting, as Ohio State made it a point to lock down the lane defensively, packing the paint anytime forwards Nigel Hayes or Ethan Happ received the ball in post position.Ohio state head coach Thad Matta said this was the game plan from the start.“We wanted to give as much support as we could down low,” Matta said. “Not doubling, but we weren’t as quick as we needed to be to get back and we didn’t help the helper.”The Badgers took advantage of the shots they were given and managed to shoot fairly effectively from behind the arc, hitting 7-of-18 shots in the first half, with two coming from each point guard in Bronson Koenig and Jordan Hill.Hayes, on the other hand, had a quiet and frustrating first half, as he constantly settled for outside jumpers instead of attacking the paint and shooting just 1-of-7 for three points in the first 20 minutes.Hayes came out slow again to start the second half, missing his first two shots from the field, but then, all of a sudden, something clicked for the junior.With just over 14 minutes remaining in the second half, the Badgers held a seven-point lead, allowing the Buckeyes to hang around. Hayes — 1-for-9 from the field at this point — stepped up and confidently hit a three to push the team’s lead to 10.From there it was all Hayes, as he went on to score 11 of the team’s next 13 points over the next five minutes of play and scored 18 of his team-high 21 points in the second half.“When we need a bucket, I have to be able to produce that for us,” Hayes said. “I’m not the only one, but I guess I’ll take [being] the lead singer in our rock band.”For the rest of the team, they continued their sharp shooting from downtown, as they finished shooting 13-of-27 from downtown — and embraced a bend but don’t break mentality.Even though the Buckyes came storming back to bring what was a 12-point lead down to just two with about four minutes remaining, Wisconsin then kicked into high gear, ending the game on a 14-5 run.In the end, Wisconsin’s daggers came at the hands of guard Jordan Hill and forward Brown, as Hill hit a long three with the shot clock winding down and Brown hit a jumper from the elbow that put UW up seven with 56 seconds remaining.The Buckeyes never recovered.“I’m extremely proud of our guys and how they continue to battle and find a way,” Gard said. “It’s coming from different people in different fashions.”The victory brings the Badgers to a tie with Michigan State for sixth in the Big Ten. They are three games out of first place and just one game out of fourth place.Stats courtesy of UW-Athleticslast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *