COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Max Klesmit scored all of his 18 points in the second half as No. 15 Wisconsin won its fifth straight, rallying to beat Ohio State 71-60 on Wednesday night.
A 3-pointer from Klesmit put Wisconsin up by 1 with a 5:16 left. The defense kept the clamps on Ohio State as Klesmit kept shooting, scoring nine of the last 14 points for the Badgers (12-3, 4-0 Big Ten).
“He is opportunistic," Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said of the junior guard who is averaging 7.2 points per game off the bench. “He understands what his role is on this team.”
Wisconsin outscored Ohio State 19-4 in the final six minutes to pull away.
“A really gutty performance,” Gard said. “Road wins are hard to get, and you appreciate them when you get them. I’m happy for this group because they did a good job of preparation, and they came to play tonight.”
AJ Storr had 15 of his 17 points in the first half for the Badgers, the only undefeated team left in the Big Ten.
Jamison Battle had another impressive performance for Ohio State (12-4, 2-3), pacing the Buckeyes with 18 points and eight rebounds. Bruce Thornton had 13 despite missing his last four shots. The Buckeyes have lost two straight on the heels of a four-game win streak.
The Buckeyes led most of the first half by as many as seven points. Back-to-back 3-pointers by John Blackwell and Connor Essegian put the Badgers up 35-33 at the break. The Buckeyes led by as many as four points in the second half before Wisconsin started its late surge.
“It was just keeping it simple, making the right play, finding the open guy and sticking to what we wanted to do throughout the whole game," Klesmit said. “The team never got sped up. We were never in a funk.”
Wisconsin: Steven Crowl, the Badgers 7-footer, was slowed by a left knee contusion suffered in practice. Scoreless in the first half, Crowl finished with five points and six rebounds.
“He gutted through it and was determined to play,” Gard said.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes just couldn't overcome Klesmit's second-half surge and the Badgers stifling defense down the stretch.
“When you're playing a good team, we just had a few too many breakdowns,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “But I think the score didn’t reflect how close this game was. Obviously, anybody who watched it knows that, so give (Wisconsin) credit.”
Ohio State guard Roddy Gayle Jr. continues to struggle, hitting just 4 of 14 shots from the floor and finishing with 9 points. The Buckeyes were just 4 for 10 from the foul line.
An impressive finish on the road should get Wisconsin some more national attention.
Wisconsin: Hosts Northwestern on Saturday.
Ohio State: At Michigan on Monday.