State's Mickey Mitchell, right, knocks a rebound
away from Wisconsin's Ethan Happ (22) during the
first half of an NCAA college basketball game
Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Madison, Wis.
MADISON — The
conversation in the locker room at halftime between
Wisconsin interim coach Greg Gard and forward Nigel Hayes
was brief and to the point.
Stop taking outside shots
and start getting to the foul line, Gard pleaded.
Message received — Hayes
scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half, and the
Badgers still got more than enough from the perimeter
after making a season-high 13 3-pointers in a 79-68 win on
Thursday night over Ohio State.
"He's very good at
finding spots," Gard said. "To be able to put
the ball into one of your better players' hands that close
to the basket, obviously it puts pressure on the
Wisconsin (14-9, 6-4 Big
Ten) took advantage of open looks outside but nearly
squandered a 12-point lead midway through the second half.
The Badgers made things
difficult for themselves by going just 10 of 17 from the
foul line for the night. Ohio State (14-10, 6-5) drew
within 62-59 with 7:04 left on Jae'Sean Tate's layup.
State's Trevor Thompson, left, goes after a rebound
against Wisconsin's Khalil Iverson (21) and Alex
Illikainen (25) during the first half of an NCAA
college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in
Madison, Wis. Reaching in is Ohio State's JaQuan
Lyle, second from right.
Hayes, though, was clutch
in the second half.
On defense, he dropped back
on his man to intercept a pass into the paint with 3:17
Hayes followed with a dunk
on the next possession, and Jordan Hill hit a 3 with the
shot clock winding down for an eight-point lead with 1:39
One of the keys of the
second half was following Gard's advice and getting more
touches in the paint, Hayes said.
"And I think I did
that a little better, I was able to get some things around
the rim," Gard said. "All in all, we did a
better job at that."
Wisconsin has clawed its
way back into the middle of the conference pack after 1-4
State's Keita Bates-Diop (33) drives past
Wisconsin's Zak Showalter (3) during the first half
of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 4,
2016, in Madison, Wis.
The Buckeyes lost their
second straight game despite 27 points from JaQuan Lyle,
who was 11 of 19 from the field. Kam Williams added 10
points, while Tate finished with nine.
Bronson Koenig scored 13
points for Wisconsin and was 3 of 7 from behind the arc.
The Badgers were 13 of 27 from 3-point range.
Buckeyes coach Thad Matta
said the plan defensively initially was to concentrate on
guarding forwards Hayes and Ethan Happ, who were leading
the Badgers offense in recent weeks.
"But we weren't as
quick as we needed to be to get back," Matta said
about defending outside shots. "We didn't help the
Happ and Vitto Brown each
added 12 points for Wisconsin.
Ohio State went with a
small lineup to go on a 9-0 run to narrow the 62-50
deficit with 9:25 left.
"It got us space a
little better, opened up some avenues to drive and
kick," Matta said. "Defensively, we weren't
doing as good a job as we needed to do on the bigs
interim coach Greg Gard talks with Jordan Hill
during the second half of an NCAA college basketball
game against Ohio State on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016,
in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin won 79-68.
At one point, Wisconsin had
three players who were from Ohio on the floor against the
Buckeyes in Hayes, Vitto Brown and Khalil Iverson. Hayes
chuckled when asked if that held any significance to him.
"No, I'm cool,"
Hayes said. "They got the guys they wanted. I'll take
my two Final Fours and my wins and I'll carry on my merry
Hayes and Koenig played key
roles in the program's Final Four appearances the previous
Ohio State: Tate was
assessed a technical foul with 1:10 left in the first half
after a play in which he elbowed Wisconsin's Zak Showalter
in the face after an Ohio State bucket. Showalter was
standing behind Tate. ... Lyle led all scorers in the
first half with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He was a
combined 6 of 25 from the field in his previous five
Wisconsin: Wisconsin led
38-32 at the half after squandering an 11-0 run to open
the game. ... In honor of Black History Month, the Badgers
wore throwback uniforms from 1976 to honor Bill Cofield,
the first black basketball coach in Big Ten history. The
uniform featured plain white solid lettering and numerals
across the red top, and an image of the Badgers mascot on
the side of the shorts.
Ohio State: Hosts
Northwestern on Tuesday.
Wisconsin: Hosts Nebraska