With Wisconsin’s 55-50 victory Saturday night against the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Badgers have moved right into the thick of the NCAA Tournament race after winning their fourth-straight game.
Their success Saturday night could not have come without the help of senior forward Joe Krabbenhoft.
On the night, Krabbenhoft finished with nine points, eight rebounds, six steals and four assists. While he only went 2-for-4 from the field, he was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line, including hitting two at the end of the game, which helped cement the Badgers’ victory.
“I love Krabbenhoft’s game,” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. “He has gotten savvy. He understands everything that is going on. He made some great reads both offensively and defensively. He took the ball up and knocked the three down there. The best I think he does is (being) the passer. Tonight, he gets six steals, and that’s what guys like that are supposed to do for you.”
Krabbenhoft not only had a good statistical game but also hit shots when the Badgers needed them most. Down 48-47 with 2:06 left to go in the game, Krabbenhoft hit his only three of the game to put the Badgers up 50-48. Previous to that shot, a Jon Leuer jumper from the free-throw line was the only field goal the Badgers made in the last 6:41.
“Well, how many big shots have I really made?” Krabbenhoft said. “That was a big shot. The shot clock was down, and I had to put it up. There were guys in there in rebounding position, so it wasn’t a bad shot.”
Defensively, it was Krabbenhoft’s job to defend Ohio State guard Evan Turner, who entered the game averaging 17 points per contest, which ranks third in the Big Ten. He also averages 7.5 rebounds per game, which is third in the conference as well.
“Evan Turner does a lot of different things,” Krabbenhoft said. “He goes to the post, he can ying-yang out on the perimeter.”
While Turner did put up 23 points, Krabbenhoft also forced him to commit six turnovers and go 9-of-13 from the field without a 3-point attempt. While he played good defense, Krabbenhoft gave credit to his big men to help him defend Turner.
“He was 9-for-13 and distributed the ball well, but we forced him into some things that he probably didn’t like so much,” Krabbenhoft said. “You have to give credit to the guys for helping me out.”
Despite Krabbenhoft’s solid statistics, he had one error when he had a wide-open shot with the shot clock winding down but decided to bring it back out to the top of the key instead.
“You know, I’d give him a 98 (percent),” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. “I would deduct two points for not knowing the amount of seconds on the shot clock, but he did OK. I’m not trading him. I don’t know if I have ever yelled ‘shoot’ louder in all my life, and I didn’t yell even when my kids played basketball. I always wanted them to play good defense.”
Over the course of the four-game winning streak, Krabbenhoft has played exceptionally well, averaging 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while playing strong on the defensive end of the court.
“Joe is always the type of guy who delivers,” Wisconsin forward Marcus Landry said. “You can always count on him. We put him on Evan Turner today and he did a great job of forcing him into some shots he wouldn’t normally take. Joe has been that type of guy ever since he’s been here. He’s the type of guy you want on your team. He’s a winner.”