Four Thoughts on Ohio State Vs. WisconsinPosted by jnowak on February 4th, 2012
The Ohio State – Wisconsin game Saturday afternoon certainly was as good as advertised and, whether you’re a fan of either school or just good Big Ten basketball, it was a treat to watch. Here are a few things to take away from a contest that had major implications on the conference standings:
- The effect on the standings — With the victory, the Buckeyes are now in the conference driver’s seat. As of the end of this game, Ohio State held a one-game lead in the standings over Michigan, with Michigan State and Wisconsin trailing the Wolverines by half a game. Michigan heads to Michigan State on Sunday and a Wolverines loss would drop them further back, giving Ohio State even more cushion. The Buckeyes still have to host Wisconsin, play Michigan State twice, and go to Ann Arbor, but a win in one of the toughest environments in the Big Ten against the conference’s hottest team secures Ohio State as the top dog in the conference right now.
- Jordan Taylor’s efficiency — It was a compelling matchup with Ohio State’s Aaron Craft on Taylor, but Taylor maintained the incredible pace at point guard he’s kept over Wisconsin’s last seven games (six of them wins). He had a nice line on Saturday, racking up 12 points, but the most impressive thing is his continued care for the basketball. Going against Craft, who entered the day with the most steals in the Big Ten, Taylor had six assists and three turnovers. With that performance, Taylor has just six turnovers in his last seven games, to go along with 29 assists. It’s really nothing new for Taylor, who has 224 assists and just 67 turnovers in 68 career Big Ten games. What more can you ask for from your point guard?
- Jared Sullinger’s play inside — Sullinger showed why he’s the frontrunner for the Big Ten Player of the Year award, leading the Buckeyes to their biggest win of the season with 24 points and 10 rebounds. By halftime, he had a stat line that many players would be proud to put together for an entire game, and the Badgers had no answer for him inside early on. He was calling for the ball from the onset, and Thad Matta put together a nice game plan that assured William Buford would work inside-out with the big man and the Buckeyes offense continued to go through Sullinger down low.
- The inconsistency of Lenzelle Smith Jr. — There aren’t too many guys who average 6.4 points per game but will also go off for 28 at any given time. Smith is one of those guys, which makes him that much more puzzling. He didn’t score Saturday until late in the second half, despite logging 29 minutes in the game, and finished with another quiet afternoon (three points on 1-for-2 shooting). We’ve seen Smith go off for 28 against Indiana and 17 against Michigan, but he scored just two points combined in wins against Penn State and Nebraska in between. The Buckeyes have not been known for their great depth, but if they can get Smith to contribute more regularly, he adds another important dimension.