The Wisconsin Badgers resume Big Ten play at No. 5 Ohio State on Friday, confident in their game.
“I think defensively we are in a really great place and sticking to our game plans and executing on what the coaches ask us to do,” senior guard Brevin Pritzl said following a 65-37 win over Rider on Tuesday to end the nonconference schedule.
“Offensively, we have been a work in progress all season and we are finally starting to click and learn what each other’s strengths are. That’s how we are executing, by getting those guys into the spots that they will be most successful. That’s something we should look forward to going forward.”
The Badgers (8-5, 1-1 Big Ten) will face an Ohio State team (11-2, 1-1) that has had impressive victories but has displayed cracks lately, especially in the 67-59 loss to then-No. 16 West Virginia on Sunday.
Ohio State committed a season-high 22 turnovers; 12 were in the second half when the Buckeyes shot 31.3 percent (15 of 48) and committed 16 fouls against the Mountaineers’ pressure.
The Buckeyes led by six at the break and 54-53 with 4:40 left in the game but were outscored 14-5 down the stretch after numerous fruitless possessions.
“You’ve got to move on in a game like this because there’s so many possessions that are ugly when you play West Virginia,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “That’s part of it.”
The Buckeyes have averaged 17.8 turnovers in the past four games to raise their season average to 13.8.
“All we can do is go to work now,” Buckeyes junior forward Kaleb Wesson said after the West Virginia game. “We can’t go back and play the game and put 40 minutes on the clock. We’ve got to work on our toughness and as a team get better.”
Ohio State will be without junior starting forward Kyle Young (8.3 points, 6.8 rebounds per game) who underwent an appendectomy after Sunday’s game, Holtmann said. Young was ill before the game but managed a team-high 11 rebounds.
The game will be the first for Wisconsin junior forward Micah Potter against his former team. The Mentor, Ohio, native transferred from Ohio State before the start of the 2018-19 season.
Under NCAA transfer rules, he did not become eligible until last month and in three games is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 13.0 minutes per game.
Ohio State had impressive nonconference victories against Villanova (76-51), North Carolina (74-49) and Kentucky (71-65) when all three were ranked in the top 10.
The Badgers’ most notable wins have come against Indiana (84-64) and Tennessee (68-48). After Ohio State, Wisconsin plays Illinois before facing three straight ranked opponents in Penn State (No. 21), Maryland (15) and Michigan State (14).
“Hopefully we’re getting better and we’ll have to continue to get better as we go into these next 18 (games),” to complete the Big Ten schedule, Badgers coach Greg Gard said.
–Field Level Media