Struggling Wisconsin will be out to salvage a once-promising season when the 11th-ranked Badgers host Ohio State in a Big Ten matchup on Tuesday in Madison, Wis.
Wisconsin (16-8, 8-5 Big Ten), which led the Big Ten two weeks ago, dropped its fourth consecutive deicison following a 78-56 setback at Rutgers on Saturday.
Ohio State (14-10, 4-9) defeated Maryland 79-75 in double overtime at home Saturday to snap a five-game losing streak. The Buckeyes, however, have lost 15 consecutive road games.
The Badgers’ swoon began with a second-half collapse at Nebraska when they let a 16-point lead slip away in an 82-70 overtime loss on Feb. 1. Wisconsin then played second-ranked Purdue tough at home in a 75-69 loss on Feb. 4.
Then the bottom dropped out. Wisconsin lost 72-68 last Wednesday at last-place Michigan, which had lost 10 of its previous 11 games.
The Badgers dropped five spots in the poll last week after the first two losses. They likely will plummet when the new poll is released.
Wisconsin trailed Rutgers 37-28 at the half, but the deficit ballooned to 51-34 with 12:34 remaining.
Wisconsin shot just 32.8 percent, including 5 of 21 from 3-point range. The Badgers are just 13 of 59 beyond the arc over the last three games.
Rutgers also scored 15 points off 12 Wisconsin turnovers, 11 of wich came in the first half. The Badgers turned it over on their first three possessions and four of their first five.
Connor Essegian came off the bench for a season-high 15 points and AJ Storr added 14. Guards Max Klesmit and Chucky Hepburn combined for five points on 1-of-11 shooting.
“We spent two days to prepare. This is the first time we got crossed,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “But I thought we were way too tentative, we weren’t aggressive enough, sometimes making bad decisions. We need work.
“You’ve got to make plays. And we did at times. But not enough and threw the ball to places that you shouldn’t have no business. Rutgers was better than us in all capacities today.”
Storr, a sophomore transfer from St. John’s, averages a team-best 16.4 points. Tyler Wahl adds 11.5 points and Steven Crowl 10.7, along with a team-high 7.7 boards.
Ohio State scored the final six points in the second overtime to pull out the win over Maryland, holding the Terps scoreless over the final 2:37. Bruce
Thornton led the Buckeyes with 24 points and a team-high seven rebounds, and Roddy Gayle Jr. added 17 points.
“Credit to our guys,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “I thought they were gutsy and had some tremendous performances, and just stayed with it, kept swinging throughout the game. Give them credit. I think Maryland’s really tough and a tough-minded team, so good win for guys.”
Thornton averages a team-best 15.8 points, followed by Gayle at 14.3, and Jamison Battle at 14.2, along with a team-leading 64 3-pointers. Felix Okpara averages 6.8 boards.
Wisconsin rallied to win the first meeting this season at Ohio State 71-60 in early January behind Klesmit, who scored all 18 of his points in the second half.
The recent series has been evenly matched, with the Badgers winning 6 of the last 10.