Feb. 4, Kohl Center
Season record: 14-9 (6-4 Big Ten)
The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team has forged an identity on offense under interim coach Greg Gard by increasing post touches and getting to the free throw line.
The Badgers broke character Thursday night at the Kohl Center, winning a game at the 3-point line.
Junior forward Nigel Hayes scored a team-high 21 points, and UW connected a season-high 13 times from beyond the arc to extend its winning streak to five games with a 79-68 victory over Ohio State.
Junior guard Bronson Koenig added 13 points for the Badgers (14-9, 6-4 Big Ten), who shot 48.1 percent from 3-point range to overwhelm a Buckeyes team that was No. 17 nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency ratings.
UW’s previous season high for made 3-pointers was eight. Its long-range output against Ohio State matched the best effort of last year’s team, which featured a lineup full of quality perimeter shooters.
“A lot of them were wide-open 3s,” Hayes said. “We’ll always take that. We believe in our shooters, we know that they can make shots.”
UW overcame a huge game from Ohio State freshman guard JaQuan Lyle, who scored a game-high 27 points off the bench on 11-of-19 shooting. Lyle’s quickness caused major issues for the Badgers and was a big reason Ohio State (14-10, 6-5) finished with a 32-24 advantage in points in the paint.
But it didn’t cost the Badgers a key victory in a matchup of NCAA tournament bubble teams because they were so efficient on the other end of the court.
Koenig and sophomore guard Jordan Hill led the way with three 3-pointers apiece, while Hayes, junior guard Zak Showalter and freshman forward Alex Illikainen each made two.
“We wanted to give as much support as we could down low – not doubling – but we weren’t as quick as we probably needed to be to get back and we didn’t help the helper,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “But give them credit, they got rolling and it really became contagious.”