I was hoping the week off would make Ohio State well-rested so it could finally overcome that Kohl Center jinx. If anything, the week off made them look rusty in the first half. I don’t know if the appropriate metaphor is “ice cold”, or “rusty” or if the Buckeyes played with “hands of stone”, but the miscues in the first half were strange to say the least and ran the gamut of lazy dribbling, sailing an uncontested backcourt pass into the scorer’s table, and failing to secure an intercepted pass, and, yes, failing to secure a rebound. These fortuitous bounces seemed to all go Wisconsin’s way. A player like Joe Krabbenhoft doesn’t get 6 steals in a game unless you’re doing something seriously daffy. There was nothing crisp about the first half for the Buckeyes, though they only trailed by one at intermission. Sadly, the second half didn’t get too much better. The Buckeyes did have a spurt here and there, but faltered in the final minutes for a 5pt loss.
There was poor run of play from just about everyone this game. BJ Mullens had 7 points off 3-3 shooting, but 2, if not all 3, field gaols came from easy dunks. His 5 turnovers weren’t particularly helpful, though his rebounding effort (7) was helpful in the second half. Lauderdale again started, but his 2 points and 2 rebounds performance put him on the pine in lieu of Mullens for the start of the second half. Jon Diebler only took 4 shots this game and his lone basket came on a backdoor cut and layup. The commentators drew attention to who was guarding him (Bohannon, I think) and how he was face-guarded and effectively shadowed the entire game. This is true, but it doesn’t factor in how Diebler still struggles to create his own shot and Mullens and Lauderdale struggle to spring him loose on the screen. The screens are ineffective (and either of the big men rightfully get called for a moving screen here and there) and Diebler isn’t brushing off them, allowing whoever was guarding him (Bohannon, I think) to easily stick to Diebler. Jeremie Simmons started, but was the height of ineffective this game (0 points, 0/3 shooting, 0 assists and 2 turnovers). William Buford also took a step back in the second half. He finished with 11 points on the game, but had only 2 in the second half.
Evan Turner, however, did show why he is a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate and, perhaps, the frontrunner for the award at this time. With everyone else ineffective in basically all facets of offense — distributing, scoring, setting screens, you name it — Turner took it upon himself to put forward a Herculean, and almost compensatory, effort. His 23 points off 9/13 shooting was good for 46 percent of the team’s offensive production for the game. He also added 5 rebounds and 5 of the Buckeyes’ 10 total assists for the game. Yes, he also had 6 turnovers, but this is an artifact of the basic fact that Atlas never had it so tough.
Again, mediocre-at-best point guard performance will hinder this team for the rest of the season, and Simmons — in spite of his performance — is probably the team’s best option going forward. Yet, it’s good to know that the backup at the position will go balls deep every game.
With the loss, the Buckeyes slide to 4th in the Big Ten overall standings, but still firmly in the running for second place in a season where Michigan State is basically assured the regular season conference crown. The Buckeyes next travel to Evanston, where I hope they will exact some revenge by pounding on the nerd school of the Big Ten. The game played last night will be the only conference game between the Badgers and Buckeyes this season.