Feb 14, 2004
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Sports Writer
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan has a simple rule: cherry pick and you take a seat. It doesn’t matter who you are.
That’s why star guard Devin Harris came out with 3:41 remaining in No. 17 Wisconsin’s 78-48 rout of Ohio State on Saturday night.
Before he left, he hit two free throws to cap a 33-point performance.
With the game out of hand, Harris didn’t hustle back on defense and threw his arms in the air for an outlet long pass after a Buckeyes’ miss at the other end.
He was hammered by Velimir Radinovic while going for the easy layup, and sank both free throws for a 72-42 lead, then watched the rest of the blowout from the bench.
“He came out for one simple reason: he cherry picked,” Ryan said. “He said, ‘Well, Coach, I had to. I knew you were taking me out.’ He was honest. If you ever see anybody cherry pick for me, they come out of the game.”
Harris said he knew he was going to come out soon anyway, and all he thought about while going up for the shot was getting yanked.
“It’s automatic and everybody knows it,” Harris said.
It was the only blemish on an otherwise stellar performance by Harris, who sank 16-of-18 free throws, hit three 3-pointers, grabbed six rebounds and had four assists in leading the Badgers to their biggest rout of the Buckeyes since the series began in 1905.
The Badgers (17-4, 8-2) stayed in first place in the Big Ten and improved to 41-2 at home under Ryan, including 22-0 in conference games. Wisconsin has won 26 straight games at the Kohl Center with an average margin of victory of 20.5 points.
Ohio State (11-12, 3-7) didn’t have an answer for Harris, who scored 29 in Wisconsin’s 69-57 victory in Columbus on Jan. 28.
When J.J. Sullinger’s basket cut the Badgers’ lead to 43-34 early in the second half, Harris scored inside, fed Boo Wade for a basket on a fast break, drove past two defenders for a layup, hit a 3-pointer and, lastly, made two free throws which gave Wisconsin a 54-39 lead with 10:23 left.
“Devin Harris basically took over the game during that one stretch when they really, really pulled away,” Ohio State coach Jim O’Brien said. “He’s every bit as good as any guard that I’ve seen in college basketball in a while.”
Harris, who became the first Badger with three 30-point performances in a season since Michael Finley in 1993-94, hit a 3 that made it 57-39 as the game deteriorated into another blowout.
Ohio State, which suffered its worst loss since a 107-75 defeat to Purdue on Feb. 7, 1998, had just six field goals in the second half.
Mike Wilkinson added 14 points for Wisconsin, and Sullinger led the Buckeyes with 14.
The Badgers were 32-of-38 from the free-throw line and the Buckeyes were just 7-of-17.
Harris also had a dominant stretch at the end of the first half after the Buckeyes used a 10-0 run to go ahead 26-25. Harris scored eight points in an 11-2 run the Badgers used to take a 36-28 halftime lead.
Ricardo Billings gave the Buckeyes a 28-27 lead with a dunk at 2:37, but he slapped the backboard with his right hand on his way down, drawing a technical foul.
Ohio State didn’t score again in the first half, and Harris scored six points, starting with a free throw on the technical, which Wilkinson followed with a 3-pointer that gave Wisconsin the lead for good.
In the first half, the Badgers were 18-of-20 from the line, and Ohio State was 0-for-1 and had three starters out with three fouls.
O’Brien tried to be diplomatic about the disparity, complimenting Wisconsin’s defense but insisting the Badgers weren’t foul-proof.
“There’s a myth in the Big Ten (about) Wisconsin: they pride themselves on not fouling,” O’Brien said. “Because they are every bit as physical guarding in the low post as anybody that we play against.”