Buckeyes uses defense to hold off Wisconsin, 62-57

Published 11:31 pm Saturday, March 14, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS — The Big Ten’s best-shooting team can play defense, too.

Evan Turner scored 19 points and Ohio State held Wisconsin without a field goal for the final 6 minutes of Friday’s 61-57 victory in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. The win set up a semifinal showdown Saturday against top-seeded and No. 7-ranked Michigan State.

‘‘We’ve been more consistent in making winning plays, getting stops when we need to and staying in the game,’’ said Turner, who had only six points in the first half and played much of the game in foul trouble.

Email newsletter signup

‘‘I don’t really think about the fouls,’’ he said. ‘‘I just think about just playing. I don’t want to play risky, like I’m scared. If I was going to go out, I was going to go out fighting.’’

The Badgers led 54-47 with 6 minutes to go but missed their final seven shots, managing only one free throw by Marcus Landry and two by Jason Bohannon during the 14-3 run by the Buckeyes. Turner, playing with three and then four fouls, had six points during that key stretch.

Ohio State led the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.484) during the season. The Buckeyes were slightly better than that this game, but the defense limited Wisconsin to 36 percent shooting from the field.

‘‘We knew it would be pretty much a possession-by-possession game, and it was,’’ Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. ‘‘But in the last 5 minutes you’ve got to knock some shots down, and unfortunately we didn’t, and Turner made a lot of good plays. He’s that good.

‘‘He proved why he’s the best player in the league, because he gets things done and makes his team successful,’’ Ryan said of the Buckeyes’ sophomore, who led the Big Ten in scoring at 17.3 points a game this season.

Early in the second half, with Wisconsin seemingly still in control, the Buckeyes were ‘‘just out there,’’ Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. ‘‘Wisconsin had the ability to do whatever they wanted. We were kind of at their mercy.’’

But the game turned around when the Buckeyes became more patient, he said.

‘‘We were trying to force him to other guys on the court,’’ Wisconsin’s Marcus Landry said of the futile effort to stop Turner. ‘‘But he made plays and he found other guys.’’

Now fifth-seeded Ohio State (21-9), which lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten quarterfinals last year, will get a rematch on Saturday.

‘‘I don’t see why not,’’ Turner said of beating the favored Spartans this year. ‘‘I don’t really too much worry about it. If you take care of business, you don’t really have to worry about it. I think it’s just all confidence. Anytime you get the ball at crunch time, it’s just all confidence.’’

Jeremie Simmons added 10 points for Ohio State. No. 4-seed Wisconsin (19-12) was led by Trevon Hughes with 15 and Bohannon with 13.

‘‘They were scoring and we weren’t. They got baskets in the last 5 minutes and we didn’t,’’ Hughes said of the loss to Ohio State. ‘‘We were getting looks, they just weren’t falling.’’

Ohio State never led by more than one point until the final minute of the game.

A 3-pointer by Jon Diebler capped an 8-0 run and gave the Buckeyes a 54-55 lead before the final tie on the free throw by Landry. Turner put Ohio State ahead 57-55 on a spinning layup, and two free throws by P.J. Hill put the Buckeyes up by four.

Wisconsin, which won the tournament last year, cut the lead to 59-57 on the two free throws by Bohannon, but Simmons iced the game with two foul shots with 7 seconds left.

Poor shooting hurt both teams at the start, although Wisconsin led most of the way and took a 22-16 lead after Turner, the Big Ten scoring leader this season, left with his second foul with 6 minutes left in the opening period.

The Buckeyes then started shooting 3-pointers and held the Badgers scoreless for the final 2:30.