So much for Big Ten road woes.
The Wisconsin Badgers (2-1 Big Ten, 9-5 overall) traveled to Columbus and stunned the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes (1-2 Big Ten, 11-3 overall) with a 61-57 statement win that could change the course of Wisconsin’s season.
It didn’t start well for UW, as Ohio State opened the game on a 7-0 run for the first eight minutes, with powerhouse forward Kaleb Wesson scoring all seven for the Buckeyes. Wesson set the pace for the Buckeyes early as he picked up a double-double in the first half, and coasted to 22 points and 13 rebounds by the final buzzer.
Former Buckeye Micah Potter hit Wisconsin’s first basket with 13:52 left in the first half, as the Badgers began to chip away at the deficit. Back-to-back threes by junior forward Nate Reuvers and senior guard Brevin Pritzl tied the score at 15 with under eight minutes in the first. Two late threes by junior guard Trevor Anderson and junior forward Aleem Ford then gave the Badgers momentum and a slim 29-25 lead at halftime.
The Buckeyes opened up the second half on a 13-2 run to take back a 38-31 lead with 16:58 to go in the game, but Wisconsin kept trading buckets to keep the game close. Sophomore guard Kobe King went 6-for-7 with 13 points on the night, but the two key players for Wisconsin were Reuvers and freshman forward Tyler Wahl.
The two high school teammates battled down low all night as Wahl, a true freshman, played his best game yet for Bucky. He filled out nearly every part of the stat sheet with four points, seven rebounds, three steals and two assists as he made key contributions in crunch time.
Wahl hit a layup to get the Badgers over a scoring hump and within two points with a little over four minutes to go, then assisted Reuvers on a wide open jumper from the free throw line to put Wisconsin up 52-51 with 1:54 left on the clock. Reuvers hit only two other field goals, but went 10-for-12 from the free throw line — including the two that iced the game — as he led UW with 17 points and gathered nine boards.
Wisconsin’s depth showed tonight as the bench outscored OSU’s 20-2. Wahl’s stat sheet might’ve been fullest, but the rest of the bench was equally as important as Brevin Pritzl scored nine points, while the rotation of Micah Potter and Trevor Anderson had four and three points in 11 and 10 minutes respectively.
Wisconsin looks to be a team high on confidence after their early struggles. After notching their first road win against the Tennesse Volunteers, the Badgers dispatched Rider 65-37 on New Year’s Eve, a good warm up before a Big Ten gauntlet that started with their road trip to Columbus.
Now, with the big upset win, Wisconsin has a four-game winning streak entering the meat of their Big Ten schedule. The Badgers will look to continue their winning ways at home against Illinois on Jan. 8.