Two desperate teams squared off at the Kohl Center on Saturday and it
was the 24th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes that survived a 59-58 win over the 14th ranked Wisconsin Badgers in Big Ten action.
The Badgers had a 6-point lead with 6:44 to play, but their inability to make free throws down the stretch cost the Badgers a victory.
The Badgers made just four of their final 10 free throws and 6 of 14 in the second half. Wisconsin started the day third in the Big Ten, shooting 74% from the free-throw line. They made 65% for the game on Saturday.
Wisconsin also hit just 3 of 17 three-pointers and 18 of 45 field goal attempts overall. In the last two games (both losses), the Badgers are 8 of 41 from three-point range (19.5%) and 33 of 102 overall from the field (32.4%).
The Badgers got one last chance, with 8.4 seconds left to play. After a time out, Traevon Jackson, who missed one of two free throws earlier, took the ball the length of the court. when he couldn’t get a shot off, he passed left to Sam Dekker, who got off a shot that missed at the buzzer.
Freshman Nigel Hayes had 17 to lead the Badgers. While he made 6 of 7 from the field, he made only 5 of 11 free throws.
Sam Dekker was critical of his team’s effort and execution two days earlier. Those words seem to put him in Bo Ryan’s doghouse. Dekker didn’t play well on Saturday, but it was interesting that one of the Badgers top players was on the bench during crucial possessions down the stretch.
One can draw their own conclusion, but Bo Ryan sends his message to players with playing time. It appeared pretty clear to me that Dekker was being sent a message by not being on the floor during a number of key stretches against the Buckeyes.
The Badgers (17-5, 4-5 Big Ten) will head to Illinois to face the Illini on Tuesday night, desperate for a victory.