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3 things that stood out from Wisconsin men’s basketball’s win over Ohio State

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UWi forward Tyler Wahl lays up a shot over the Ohio State defense during the first half Thursday night at the Kohl Center.

The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team utilized a first-half lead to overcome Ohio State in a rematch Thursday night at the Kohl Center.

The 13th-ranked Badgers were up 40-27 at the half and withstood multiple runs en route to a 78-68 win over the 16th-ranked Buckeyes.

“I thought they played with force and physicality and really imposed themselves, particularly the first 20 minutes,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “Which I thought was really a difference in game. We couldn’t ever get it to a one possession game because the first 20 minutes … they just imposed themselves.”

The Buckeyes (10-4, 4-2) went on an 8-0 run over 2 minutes, 52 seconds at the start of the second half to close the gap. Chris Vogt ended the scoring drought, putting UW back up double digits and Ohio State would only get as close as six points the rest of the way.

The Buckeyes had another 7-0 run over 1:23 that put them within seven points. Brad Davison ended a scoring drought that lasted over 3 minutes, hitting a stepback 3-pointer with 7:32 left in the game.

Tyler Wahl’s steal and dunk with 4:15 left in the game put the Badgers (14-2, 5-1) up by 14 points. Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell fouled out just a minute later and that was enough for UW to secure the win.

“Liddell is a great player,” Davison said. “Offensively, he is a handful. Tyler did a great job other guys did a great job tonight. One of the best ways to keep him from scoring is to get on the bench with five fouls. It was a good defensive play for us.”

Liddell led the Buckeyes with 18 points. Kyle Young, Malaki Branham and Zed Key had 10 points each.

Davison led the Badgers with 25 points. Wahl added 20 points and Johnny Davis chipped in 14.

Wahl’s first-half performance

Wahl started off the night with a driving layup, 3 minutes later sunk a hook shot and then finished the stretch with his first 3-pointer of the season. He scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds, two steals and had a career-high five assists in the first half.

All five of Wahl’s assists led to UW 3-pointers. Wahl assisted just less than the team’s points in the first half.

Both of Wahl’s first-half offensive rebounds led to second-chance points. He grabbed an offensive board with 18:01 left in the half after Chucky Hepburn missed, leading to Davison hitting a step-back jumper seconds later. Wahl later grabbed an offensive rebound off a Davis missed 3-pointer and got the ball to Steven Crowl, who then found Wahl underneath for a reverse layup.

Wahl only had two misses in the first 20 minutes — a free throw and a 3-pointer.

Davis’ off night

Davis was held to six points in the first half on 1-for-7 shooting with three of his points coming from the free throw line. He was the source of three of the Badgers’ seven first-half turnovers.

While he wasn’t connecting on his shots, Davis found other ways to contribute. He had five rebounds in the first half, including a tough one against Liddell and Young. He also drew a foul on the play.

Davis connected on a season-low 22% of his shots and went 1-for-5 from 3-point range. He committed a team-high four turnovers, which was just under half of the team’s total.

“I would take an 18-point win and Johnny Davis with 24 as opposed to this outcome,” Holtmann said. “They’ve got a good team. We were obviously keyed on him and he commands a lot of attention. We were as concerned about him and the attention that he gets allowing other guys to kind of do what they do.

“That’s what happened tonight and I think ultimately that’s when they’re at their best. Certainly he can go and get 25 any night, but what we were able to do at our place is limit some of the effectiveness of some of the other guys.”

Sharing the ball

The Badgers finished with 15 assists, with Wahl leading with six.

Wahl missed a 3-pointer and Davis hustled to corral the rebound with 1:58 left in the first half. Davis then missed a 3-pointer and Wahl hustled to poke the ball loose and keep possession for UW. Crowl found Wahl underneath to finish the possession with a reverse layup.

They were even sharing rebounds as Wahl, Davison and Lorne Bowman all were part of a defensive rebound with 3:20 left in the first half. It was credited to Davison, but all three had a hand on it.

The Badgers opened up the second half with Davis missing a shot. Crowl grabbed the rebound and Wahl hit his second 3-pointer of the night.

“It’s a true team in terms of how they pick each other up,” UW coach Greg Gard said. “Somebody’s struggling, we have somebody else step in and help. They really have taken that all-hands-on-deck approach. They’re a close group off the court, too. It’s a fun locker room to be in and a fun group of guys to coach because they play hard. And they like each other and they get along well. Playing hard makes up for a lot, and can cover up a lot of mistakes at times and not that we had many mistakes, but I always know that I’m going to get a tremendous effort.”

Ohio State 27 41 — 68

Wisconsin 40 38 — 78

OHIO STATE — Ahrens 2-5 0-0 5, Key 5-8 0-3 10, Liddell 6-12 4-5 18, Branham 5-9 0-1 10, Wheeler 5-12 1-1 11, Young 5-10 0-0 10, Russell 1-1 0-0 2, Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Sotos 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 30-60 5-10 68.

WISCONSIN — Crowl 4-6 0-1 9, Wahl 8-10 2-3 20, Jon.Davis 4-18 5-6 14, Davison 7-12 7-8 25, Hepburn 0-3 0-0 0, Vogt 2-3 0-0 4, Bowman 1-1 0-2 3, Gilmore 0-2 0-0 0, Neath 1-2 0-0 3, Jor.Davis 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-58 14-20 78.

3-point goals — OS 3-19 (Liddell 2-3, Ahrens 1-4, Brown 0-1, Sotos 0-1, Branham 0-2, Young 0-3, Wheeler 0-5), W 10-23 (Davison 4-6, Wahl 2-4, Bowman 1-1, Neath 1-1, Crowl 1-2, Jon.Davis 1-5, Gilmore 0-2, Hepburn 0-2). Fouled out — Ahrens, Liddell. Rebounds — OS 30 (Key 8), W 29 (Jon.Davis 9). Assists — OS 7 (Wheeler 3), W 16 (Wahl 6). Total fouls — OS 20, W 14. Att. — 15,571.

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