Jan. 24, 2001
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Sports Writer
MADISON, Wis. – Ohio State coach Jim O’Brien didn’t quite know what to make of his team’s 57-42 loss to No. 15 Wisconsin on Wednesday night.
“I don’t know if it was two inept offensive teams or two exceptional defensive teams,” O’Brien said. “You can put your own spin on it.”
Badgers coach Brad Soderberg didn’t hesitate.
“Well, actually, 57 points is not inept for us,” Soderberg said. “We’ve been down that road.”
Roy Boone led the low-scoring Badgers (12-4, 3-3 Big Ten) with 13 points despite 4-of-13 shooting and Brian Brown was the Buckeyes’ leading scorer with 14 points even though he misfired on 12 of 15 shots.
“That was your typical Big Ten battle,” Badgers point guard Mike Kelley said. “I don’t think it was dirty. You saw a low-scoring game, but you also saw a game in which every guy gave his all.”
The Buckeyes (12-7, 3-4) shot just 25 percent (11-of-44) and made just two field goals over the final 10 minutes. Ken Johnson scored just two points, more than 10 below his average.
But the Badgers were bothered by Johnson, the nation’s premier shot blocker who had three big blocks Wednesday night and altered Wisconsin’s usual game plan.
“Just his presence alone alters the game,” Wisconsin forward Mark Vershaw said. “Some of my moves I couldn’t make because I knew if I got by my guy, he was standing right there in the lane.”
Ready to send another shot into the seats.
The Buckeyes had no handy excuse for their meager offense except to credit the Badgers’ unmerciful defense.
“They are an exceptionally good defensive team,” O’Brien said. The Badgers won for the 10th straight time at home and handed the Buckeyes their first loss in four trips to the Kohl Center. The Buckeyes were the last Big Ten school to win at Kohl, where Wisconsin is 32-10 since it opened three years ago this month.
Ohio State also had won five straight over Wisconsin, which got 10 points from Kirk Penney, the only other player for either team to reach double figures.
The Buckeyes went the first 7:37 without a basket, but the Badgers would go more than eight minutes between points themselves before emerging with a 22-18 halftime lead.
Together, the teams missed 28 of their first 34 shots, including 13 of 15 from 3-point range. Wisconsin missed its first nine attempts from beyond the arc until Ricky Bower’s 3-pointer with 3:53 left in the half gave Wisconsin a 10-9 lead, eliciting some mock applause.
“Everyone in the gym knew I should bring Bower in. We couldn’t make anything,” Soderberg said.
Boone’s shooting woes even extended to the foul line, where he bricked his first attempt, ending a streak of 25 straight successful free throws, seventh-best in school history.