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Jeff Eisenberg

Ohio State's bid for an unbeaten season ends at Wisconsin

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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For a few fleeting moments on Saturday, Ohio State was streaking toward its biggest win of the season, the Wisconsin crowd was silent and the dream of an undefeated regular season suddenly seemed realistic.

Like most spurts of vulnerability from the Badgers at the Kohl Center, it didn't last long.

Trailing the nation's top-ranked team by 15 points seven minutes into the second half, Wisconsin unleashed a quick-strike run many thought the notoriously deliberate Badgers didn't have in their arsenal. They outscored Ohio State 15-0 in the next three minutes to tie the game, took their first lead with six minutes to play and hung on to hand the Buckeyes a 71-67 loss.

Point guard Jordan Taylor was the catalyst for the second-half blitz from the Badgers, scoring 10 of his team's points during its 15-0 spurt. He finished with 27 points, seven assists and one turnover, a reminder of what a glaring error it was that he was left off the list of 10 finalists for the Cousy award earlier this week.

"I'm happy for our guys," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said on ESPN after the game. "The fact that they were able to answer that run Ohio State made in the second half, that says a lot about our team. It was led by Jordan Taylor."

There will be many who label Wisconsin's victory an upset, but those paying attention know that's not the case. The Badgers improved to a staggering 150-11 at the Kohl Center and 77-6 there against Big Ten foes, a big reason why Vegas oddsmakers actually made No. 14 Wisconsin a slight favorite against the nation's lone remaining undefeated team.

Ohio State had opportunities to become the first team to defeat Wisconsin in Madison since Illinois last February, but the Buckeyes simply could not get freshman Jared Sullinger enough touches down the stretch. He went 12 minutes without a point after Ohio State took its 15-point lead, though he finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

For a while the Buckeyes were able to maintain control of the game anyway because of stellar defense and the slashing ability of guard William Buford. Eventually Wisconsin heated up from the perimeter, Ohio State's outside shooters went cold and momentum shifted to the Badgers.

Ohio State's final chance evaporated when Mike Bruesewitz of all people sank a 3-pointer with the shot clock ticking down in the final minute to extend Wisconsin's lead to 68-63. From there it was just a matter of time until the game clock expired and a sea of red-clad students poured onto the floor.

The Buckeyes' first loss shouldn't change much about how they're perceived. They're still the Big Ten favorite, they're still a national title contender and they're still in a good position to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

The outcome does serve as a reminder of one thing though: There aren't many teams in college basketball than can knock off Wisconsin at the Kohl Center.

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