Holtmann Ejected as Ohio State’s Frustrations Continue
Ohio State and Wisconsin came into tonight both needing to right the ship in the 2nd half of the Big Ten season and the Buckeyes laid a massive egg, falling behind 16 in the first half and dropped their 8th game in 9 tries, making the hapless Badgers, losers of 6 of their last 7, look like a national title contender, falling 65-60 to drop to 11-11 and 3-8. Wisconsin snapped a 4 game losing streak to improve to 13-8 and 5-6. Coach Chris Holtmann was hit with a pair of technicals late in the first half, ejecting him from the game, as his frustration with the one sided officiating hit a boiling point and the game turned there. Justice Sueing, looking to cut into the lead, was hit with a terrible offensive foul call at the left block and with the four technical foul shots, the Badgers scored the final 8 points of the half to open the game up and put the Buckeyes in a big hole. The Buckeyes came storming back to get within two in the final minute, but it was too little too late as the comeback fell short. Ohio State dominated the glass, out rebounding the Badgers 45-26, but the hole they dug just before halftime, was the difference. The Buckeyes outshot the Badgers 43% to 42% and neither team was good at the stripe. Wisconsin hit only 13 of their 22 attempts, while Ohio State made just 8 of 13. Brice Sensabaugh led Ohio State with 13 in just 16 minutes due to foul trouble which fouled him out with just under 10 to play. Zed Key added 12 and 9 and Justice Sueing chipped in 8 points and 11 rebounds in the losing effort.
A minute and a half into the game, a poor shooting Wisconsin team entering the game had made a pair of triples en route to a quick 8-0 lead and forced Chris Holtmann to take a timeout. Inside/Outside action got the Buckeyes on the board as Zed Key kicked from the right post to Brice Sensabaugh on the left wing who drilled a three. Following a Badger turnover, Sensabaugh again from almost the same spot, drilled a triple in transition and on the next possession, more Sensabaugh as he made a nearly impossible shot. Dribbling along the left baseline, he got bumped slightly behind the board yet still hit nothing but net to tie the score and at the first media timeout, Ohio State and Wisconsin were tied at 8. Out of the timeout, Wisconsin stopped the Ohio State 8-0 run, going on a 9-2 run to go up 7. Felix Okpara split a pair of free throws and at the under 12 media timeout, Wisconsin led 17-11. Key split a pair of freebies to trim the lead to 5 and the teams traded buckets before four straight Ohio State turnovers allowed Wisconsin to extend the lead to 10 at the under 8 timeout. A drop step and spin move along the left baseline led to a Likekele bucket, but the Badgers answered again, scoring the next 7 to take control and forced Ohio State to take a timeout with 4:05 left in the first half that Wisconsin led 33-18. A Sensabaugh old-fashioned three point play trimmed the lead to 12 and after a Badger turnover, Likekele found Okpara at the rim for a dunk in transition to cut the lead to 10. The Buckeyes had a chance to cut into the lead even more but Sensabaugh turned it over and in frustration committed a flagrant 1 foul, his third of the game and Wisconsin split the free throws. Another Buckeye turnover and a foul sent Wisconsin to the stripe where they split the pair to go back ahead 12. A Likekele runner trimmed the lead and after a defensive stop, Key scored from the right block to cut the lead to 8. A Badger bucket and an absolutely terrible call of an offensive foul on Justice Sueing caught the ire of Chris Holtmann who got hit with a quick pair of technicals, sending him to the locker room for the game. Wisconsin drilled all four free throws to go up 14 and with the last possession, the Badgers scored again just before the horn to balloon their lead to 43-27 at the half, out scoring Ohio State 8-0 in the final 45 seconds. 11 Buckeye turnovers, horrendous officiating contributed to the large halftime deficit. Wisconsin shot 52% compared to 42% for Ohio State while the Badgers knocked down 5 of 13 from three and Ohio State hit just 2 of 8. Brice Sensabaugh led Ohio State with 11, while Connor Essegian scored 14 for Wisconsin while Chucky Hepburn added 12 and Steven Crowl, bodied and banged (without being called) his way to 11.
The Badgers scored first to extend the lead to 18, but a 7-0 Buckeye run trimmed the lead to 11. Sensabaugh picked up foul number 4 at the 16:06 mark and a 4-0 run put Ohio State back down 15. Just before the under 16 media timeout, Sueing got to the rim and banked in a runner while being fouled and as the teams hit the benches, Ohio State trailed Wisconsin 49-36. Sueing missed his free throw and after a Badger turnover, Likekele was mauled at the rim but once again no call as the officiating left a lot to be desired. A 3-0 Wisconsin run was answered by a Sean McNeil triple and after a Badger miss, Roddy Gayle put it on the deck from the left wing and got to the rim for two. A Badger bucket just before the under 12 media timeout put Wisconsin up 54-41 with 11:34 to play. A McNeil jumper from the top trimmed the lead to 11. A Badger free throw increased the lead to 12, but a Key short hook dropped to cut the lead to 10. Wisconsin scored at the rim and entering the game Sensabaugh was called for another poor call, getting called for an offensive foul going for a rebound, fouling Brice out. RIDICULOUS folks! Key tipped in a miss to trim the lead back to 10, but a Badger triple stopped the Buckeye momentum and quieted the crowd. Another Badger bucket put the Badgers up 15 and time was running out. A Thornton triple and a pair of McNeil free throws cut the lead back to 10 with just under 6 minutes to play. Thornton made a runner as he was fouled but yes you guessed it, an inexplicable travel was called instead of a foul giving the ball back to Wisconsin. A defensive stop and a pair of Okpara free throws cut the lead to 8. A Key bucket cut the lead to 6 and Ohio State took a timeout with 3:07 to play trailing Wisconsin 62-56 and on a 9-0 run. A Shot clock violation gave the ball back to Ohio State and a weak offensive foul call on Likekele gave the ball back to Wisconsin. After a defensive stop, Ohio State turned it over back to the Badgers. After Wisconsin missed two free throws, Sueing scored in the paint to cut the lead to 4. Another stop and Ohio State took a timeout with 41 seconds to play with Ohio State trailing 62-58. Out of the timeout, Sueing got to the left block and scored off the window as he was fouled. He missed the free throw and Ohio State was forced to foul. Wisconsin buried both freebies with 24.2 seconds to play, stopping a 13-0 Ohio State run and giving the Badgers their first points in over 7 minutes. Sueing missed a short jumper along the baseline and the Buckeyes had to foul again.
Facing a must win as the calendar turned to February, a game Ohio State absolutely should win and they could not get it done. Despite showing a lot of heart to lock down on the defensive end and hold the Badgers without a field goal for the final 8 minutes in the comeback, it still goes down as a loss and another one that is just unacceptable. The frustrations are obvious with the players, coaches and fans alike. This team is far too talented to be in this predicament and they are likely in big, big trouble as far as their postseason hopes are concerned. Some may call for Coach Holtmann’s job and I’ve covered this before. It’s not happening people. Get over it. This could end up being a lost season but with another great class coming in next year, he isn’t going anywhere. While time is running out this year, and expectations are far from being met, it’s not over yet and we’ll have time after the year to dissect what went wrong. Until then, there are still games to play beginning Sunday afternoon.
The Buckeyes hit the floor in Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon taking on the Wolverines at 1PM and airing on CBS.