March 13, 2009

One and done in conference tournament

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Wisconsin looked to have the momentum heading into the final five minutes of the game. Its defense was constricting and forcing turnovers that were leading to UW points. The crowd was beginning to swing in the Badgers favor and a UW win seemed to be the logical outcome.

Does that sound familiar?

In what has become a common theme this season, Wisconsin let a game it had in control slip away during the final stretch of action. This time, a field goal drought spanning the final six minutes of Friday's quarterfinal game against Ohio State led to UW's 61-57 loss and early tournament exit.

"We got to step up and knock down shots," UW senior Joe Krabbenhoft, who finished with four points and 10 rebounds, said. "We had a few good looks but they just didn't go down for us. That's on the players."

UW finished the game shooting 36 percent from the floor, including a 0-for-7 drought over the final six minutes of the game. During that span, the Buckeyes outscored UW 14-3, erasing a seven-point deficit en route to its four-point win.

Most of OSU's offensive consistency can be credited toward OSU's sensational sophomore forward Evan Turner, who scored a nifty lay-in that gave the Buckeyes the lead for good with less than a minute to play.

"Turner made a lot of good plays," UW head coach Bo Ryan said following his teams early exit. "He's that good. He also can help create some things for the other guys.

"But he proved why I easily say he's the best player in the league because he gets things done and he makes his team successful."

After the Badgers opened a seven-point lead with just over six minutes to play following a Jason Bohannon three-point shot, Turner came alive. During that stretch, he scored eight of his game-high 19 points to lead his team to victory.

"I think our mentality is just to be aggressive," Turner said. "We were just attacking. The lanes were open, we were all fortunate enough to get to the basket and get some fouls here and there.

"We just took advantage of what they gave us."

Turner, who struggled in OSU's first meeting against the Badgers with six turnovers, only coughed up the ball three times Friday afternoon. He also hauled in four rebounds and dished four assists while playing with four fouls for the final four minutes.

"I just forgot about them," Turner said in regards to playing in foul trouble down the stretch. "I saw the game was a winnable game and just couldn't play with risk. If I was going to go out, I was going to go out fighting."

In the midst of its comeback and with momentum on its side, Ohio State extended their pressure 90 feet, seemingly flustering the Badgers during the waning minutes.

When that did not work, OSU clogged the lane and limited UW's post touches, effectively thwarting any offensive flow for the Badgers.

"They were taking away pretty much anything inside," Ryan explained. "But some of those looks three, you'd like to have them back."

The Badgers finished the final six minutes of the game by missing all four shots from beyond the arc. UW had plenty of good looks, but for whatever reason, could not finish when a big bucket was needed.

Meanwhile, Ohio State was able to do the exact opposite and create scoring opportunities when they really needed to.

"When Wisconsin plays us, they don't let us shoot threes," Matta said. "I thought we were just much more patient in letting things happen for us."

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