There is no place like home for the Wisconsin men's basketball team. UW freshman Devin Harris hit five of six free throws over the final 19.2 seconds to secure a 94-92 overtime upset of 16th-ranked Ohio State (8-2 Big Ten, 17-4 overall) Wednesday.
The win marked a triumphant return to the Kohl Center for the Badgers (6-5, 13-11) after two consecutive road losses.
As a team, Wisconsin connected on 36 of 46 free throws for the game. Redshirt freshman forward Mike Wilkinson led the way, hitting on 13 of 16 from the line. Wilkinson finished with a career-high 19 points.
Senior forward Charlie Wills also set a career-high with 21 points, including 9 of 11 on free throws.
Junior guard Kirk Penney quietly added 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Badgers.
\I really liked the way Kirk played,"" UW Head Coach Bo Ryan said. ""He made good decisions.""
Wisconsin held a three-point lead when Ohio State guard Boban Savovic hit a 3-pointer with three seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 81-81. The game went to overtime when OSU's sophomore forward Zach Williams blocked Harris' shot from just past half court.
""We came together in that huddle right before we came out in overtime and said 'We're not going to lose this,'"" Wills said.
Wills sank two free throws to give UW an 83-81 lead 20 seconds into overtime and the Badgers never looked back. Harris missed his last free throw on purpose to run out the final 0.6 seconds on the clock.
""I really thought overtime was not to our advantage,"" Ryan said. ""That's a heck of a demonstration, to play the number one team in the league ?? and come away with a [win]. That's some gutsy play there.""
Five UW players scored in double figures and the team set a Kohl Center record for most points by one team in a single game. The 186 combined points by both teams also set an arena record.
Wisconsin's clutch free throw shooting performance made up for an abysmal night from three-point land, where the Badgers made only 4 of 23 attempts.
Travon Davis got the Badgers running right out of the gate, scoring all nine of his points in the first half. Davis fired up the home crowd on a fast break with a behind-the-back pass to sophomore guard Freddie Owens, whose lay-up gave the Badgers a 22-16 lead with just under 10 minutes to play in the half.
However, after several missed opportunities in the last four minutes of the half, UW trailed the Buckeyes 39-38 at the break.
Davis picked up three quick fouls to start the second half, but Wisconsin still managed to build a 62-52 lead after a basket by sophomore forward Dave Mader with 9:57 to play in regulation. The Badgers were able to spread the floor and consistently draw fouls on the inside.
The Buckeyes slowly began to narrow the gap, aided by junior guard Sean Connelly's two treys that cut UW's lead to 70-66 at the 3:47 mark. But OSU trailed up until the closing seconds of regulation.
""It was a crucial win,"" Wills said. ""We needed to start ourselves back on that upswing. Hopefully this game gets us on that path.""