Thomas takes down Wisconsin for Bucks

RUSTY MILLER AP Sports Writer Published:

COLUMBUS (AP) -- In the middle of the hand-to-hand combat that is a typical Wisconsin-Ohio State game, Deshaun Thomas took over.

The junior scored 25 points, including 10 during a game-breaking, 15-point second-half run, to lead the 11th-ranked Buckeyes past the Badgers 58-49 on Tuesday night.

"That's easily the best player we've played because of how he can get his own shots," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "Thomas is good. He was tough on the two-point jump shots -- real tough -- and around the basket. He can attack. He's so strong."

The 6-foot-7 junior, averaging 20 points a game, hit 10 of 17 attempts from the field including a variety of step-back jumpers, slashes through the lane and shots he muscled over defenders. He also had four assists in what coach Thad Matta called his finest game with the Buckeyes.

"Without a doubt, this is probably right there at the top just because of his overall effectiveness," Matta said. "He was also very good defensively as well."

Wisconsin had controlled the tempo with deliberate passing, finding the open man, and making 11 of 28 3-point attempts.

With Ohio State (16-4, 6-2 Big Ten) trailing 41-39 with 11:26 left, Thomas took over.

Thomas' fake and 10-foot jumper over Ryan Evans tied it at 41, with Thomas then giving the Buckeyes the lead on a drive through the lane and finger roll after Evans had been called for a charge at the other end.

It didn't stop there, as the Buckeyes' defense stepped up the pressure to force bad shots while the offense started clicking.

During the 15-0 run that went from the 13:01 mark to under 6 minutes left, the Badgers were 0 for 7 from the field with three turnovers as everything went Ohio State's way.

Thomas hit another basket, this time on a drive, before LaQuinton Ross popped in a 3 from the left wing. Thomas then took a pass from Shannon Scott on the fast break and cut in for a layup. While Wisconsin continued to misfire at the other end, Thomas then jousted with Evans, forcing him to step back before hitting a soft, fall-away 16-footer to push the lead to 52-41 and bringing a crowd of 16,911 to its feet.

Thomas said Matta had said the Buckeyes, who shot 64 percent from the field in the second half, had to be more forceful. The transition game during the 15-0 run was a prime example.

"Coach said we've got to be aggressive, get out in transition. Play our style of game," he said. "We knew that Wisconsin wanted to slow it down but we had to get out there and punch them in the mouth and start it with a fast tempo. And that's what we did."

Ben Brust finally ended the 7:11 drought with a 3 from the top of the circle.

After Wisconsin narrowed the gap to five points on a 3 by Jared Berggren, Scott stole the ball and went the length of the court for a three-point play.

The Badgers never got closer than six points again.

Thomas had come to Ohio State as one of the top schoolboy scorers ever in his native Indiana. He had little interest in defense.

He'll never be mistaken for his pesky teammate Aaron Craft, who can change a game with his defense. But he's working at it.

No one is more amazed by the transformation than Matta.

"He was exhausted the last 5 minutes of the game," he said of Thomas. "We talk about his growth. Two years ago he would have just shut down completely on the defensive end and saved it for the offensive end. But I thought he kept defending down there."

The victory moved Ohio State into third place in the Big Ten and dropped Wisconsin two games off the pace set by co-leaders Indiana and Michigan (6-1).

Traevon Jackson, the son of Buckeyes great Jimmy Jackson, led the Badgers with 12 points in the arena where his dad's jersey hangs from the rafters. Berggren added 11 points.

Craft had 13 points for the Buckeyes while creating havoc by draping himself over the Wisconsin guards.

The Badgers took more shots behind the arc (28) than they did inside of it (making just 8 of 24). They also didn't shoot a free throw, the first time that's happened in Ryan's 12 years and 390 games in Madison, Wis.

Wisconsin forward Mike Bruesewitz dissected the second-half disaster and tossed a compliment to the Buckeyes.

"They're long and athletic and they work extremely hard," he said. "That's a pretty tough combination."

INDIANA STATE 68, No. 15 WICHITA STATE 55

WICHITA, Kan. -- Manny Arop scored 17 points, including a celebratory slam in the final minute, and Indiana State snapped Wichita State's 19-game home winning streak.

The Sycamores (14-7, 7-3 Missouri Valley) stayed in the conference race with their first victory over a ranked team in five tries this season. Davonte Brown and Jake Odum both added 10 points.

Cleanthony Early had 15 points and Demetric Williams added 14 for first-place Wichita State (19-3, 8-2), which shot 27.1 percent from the field. The Shockers had just six field goals in the second half.

Indiana State ended the half on a 17-3 run over the last 4:12, taking a 39-28 lead. Wichita State got within 50-48 with 7:26 remaining, but never pulled even.

KENTUCKY 87, No. 16 MISSISSIPPI 74

OXFORD, Miss. -- Kyle Wiltjer scored a career-high 26 points and Nerlens Noel set a school record with 12 blocked shots for Kentucky.

Kentucky (14-6, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) took a 73-56 lead with 10 minutes remaining. The Rebels roared back with 16 straight points, cutting the deficit to 73-72 with 4:22 left.

Ryan Harrow nailed a 3-pointer to stop Ole Miss' run and Kentucky was able to hold on and win for the fifth time in seven games. Archie Goodwin scored 24 points and Alex Poythress added 15.

Ole Miss (17-3, 6-1) had its nine-game winning streak snapped. LaDarius White led the Rebels with 22 points while Marshall Henderson added 21. Henderson made 5 of 19 shots from the field, including just 2 of 11 from 3-point range.

VIRGINA 58, No. 19 N.C. STATE 55

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Joe Harris scored 22 points, seven during a game-ending 13-6 run, and Virginia won its fourth straight.

Akil Mitchell added 14 points for Virginia (15-5, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), including an 18-foot jumper that put them ahead to stay, as the second-stingiest defense in the country put the clamps on.

North Carolina State (16-5, 5-3), which arrived averaging nearly 80 points per game, became the 17th team, including all seven ACC opponents, to be held under 60 points by Virginia.

C.J. Leslie, playing despite being under the weather, led the Wolfpack with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Richard Howell had 12 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Jontel Evans hit two from the line with 26 seconds left to make the lead three. The Wolfpack never got off a good shot in the closing seconds.

No. 23 MINNESOTA 84, NEBRASKA 65

MINNEAPOLIS -- Rodney Williams scored 23 points for Minnesota, which snapped a four-game losing streak.

Andre Hollins scored 14 points and Austin Hollins had 13 points and five assists for the Golden Gophers (16-5, 4-4 Big Ten).

Ray Gallegos had six 3-pointers and scored 30 points for Nebraska (11-11, 2-7), which committed 13 turnovers to offset some impressive shooting. The Huskers shot 54.5 percent for the game, but were outrebounded 36-19 and forced just six turnovers by Minnesota.

The Gophers started the season 15-1, with the only loss to Duke. They climbed to No. 8 in the AP Top 25 before losses to Indiana, Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin.

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