Ohio State has struggled mightily since the indefinite suspension of sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson.
On senior day, the final game at home for guards Keyshawn Woods, C.J. Jackson and Joey Lane, it didn’t seem to get easier.
The Buckeyes (18-13, 8-12 Big Ten) continued their shooting problems early, shooting 20.7 percent from the field in the first half.
But after picking up steam late in the second half, recording a 16-1 run late in the second half, Jackson tied the game with a jumper with 36 seconds left, forcing overtime.
However, Wisconsin senior guard Khalil Iverson, who ended the game with a career-high 22 points, recorded two layups in the extra frame that made the difference.
Despite coming back from a 23-point deficit, Ohio State never recorded a lead, falling to No. 21 Wisconsin 73-67 in overtime for the Buckeyes’ third-straight loss heading into the Big Ten tournament.
“I just felt like this game, we wasn’t giving up no matter what the situation was, and that was the message,” Woods said. “We said it against Purdue, but we actually showed it, and everybody wanted it.”
In the second half, down 23, Ohio State started to find some momentum, making five straight shots from the field to cut the lead to 49-34 on a 13-5 run with 12 minutes to go in the game.
From there, Wisconsin went on a 9-2 run to extend the lead to 22 points and seemingly seal the victory.
Again, the Buckeyes started to gain some ground, going on an 11-0 run in seconds to bring it back within 11, and potential striking distance.
Senior guard C.J. Jackson cut the Wisconsin lead to nine with 2:51 to play, then forced a steal that gave Woods a wide open layup to bring the game to 63-56 with 2:28 to go.
Ohio State scored five more unanswered as part of a 14-1 run to bring the game within two points with 1:20 remaining.
Then, it was Jackson, on his own senior day, who score to tie the game at 63 with 36 seconds to go. The tie was the first time the game was deadlocked since Wisconsin took a 2-0 lead to start the game.
“I think that just goes to show when we are clicking offensively and defensively what we can be,” Jackson said.
Jackson missed the 3-pointer at the end of regulation, causing the game to go to overtime.
In overtime, the Buckeyes shot 1-of-5 from the field, and were outscored 10-4 to give the Badgers the tightly-contested win.
Jackson scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half and overtime, as well as all five of his assists.
Ohio State scored 27 of the final 32 points of regulation.
“Backs are to the wall, and in some ways there’s more of a freedom you play with,” head coach Chris Holtmann said.
After missing its first 13 shots to start the past game against Northwestern, Ohio State missed its first 11 shots against the Badgers (22-9, 14-6 Big Ten) on the way to shooting 20.7 percent from the field in the first half.
The Buckeyes ended the game shooting 37.9 percent for the game after hitting 18-of-32 from the field in the second half, including 8-of-14 from 3.
Against the Wildcats, Ohio State shot 26.6 percent from the field, the worst the team has shot since Feb. 11, 2012 against Michigan State.
The defensive end was strong for the Buckeyes in the opening half, holding Wisconsin to 35.5 percent shooting, and limiting its highest scorer on the season, redshirt senior forward Ethan Happ, to four points on 2-of-6 shooting.
Happ started to find his shot, and he made his presence felt elsewhere, filling up the stat sheet with 16 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.
The double-double was Happ’s first against Ohio State, giving him one against every team in the Big Ten over his collegiate career.
Iverson was dominant against the Buckeyes, connecting on 10 of his 14 attempts from the field and adding 14 boards to go with his career-high in points.
“We didn’t really have an answer for Iverson or Happ,” Holtmann said. “We just didn’t.”
The Badgers led by 10 at halftime, with Ohio State scoring a season-low 16 points in the opening 20 minutes.
This is the third straight game where the Buckeyes scored 20 points or less in the first half.
“The biggest thing was just effort, nothing offensively or X’s and O’s wise what we were doing wrong, we just went out there and had no effort,” Jackson said. “That’s why they jumped out on us big early.”
Freshman guard Duane Washington was the lone bright spot for Ohio State in the opening half, leading the team with seven points on 3-of-6 shooting in 12 minutes.
Washington finished with seven points, making none of his three attempts from the field in the second half.
Junior forward Andre Wesson was in foul trouble again, picking up his fourth foul of the game in the first minute of the second half.
Wesson went scoreless in the first half on five shots, and ended up with five points on 2-of-9 shooting in 23 minutes after fouling out with 5:36 to play in the second half.
Ohio State will enter the Big Ten tournament as a No. 8 seed and match up against Indiana, the No. 9 seed, at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.