MADISON — Keita Bates-Diop had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Kaleb Wesson scored 19 points and hot-shooting Ohio State opened Big Ten play with an easy 83-58 victory on Saturday over Wisconsin.
Jae’Sean Tate added 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting for Ohio State (6-3, 1-0), which hit 66 percent from the field and led comfortably for most of the afternoon.
The Buckeyes were up 49-26 at halftime, then opened the second half with a 10-2 run that quieted the typically rowdy Kohl Center crowd.
Ohio State hoped for a similar outcome against Wisconsin later Saturday in Indianapolis, where the schools’ football teams were facing off in the Big Ten title game.
Freshman Brad Davison had 16 points to lead young Wisconsin (3-5, 0-1), which has lost five of its last six games.
The Badgers have four new starters this season around big man Ethan Happ (seven points, six rebounds). Their problems could be epitomized during a stretch late in the first half in which the Buckeyes double-teamed Happ to force a turnover.
Musa Jallow sprinted down the other end for an easy layup and 20-point lead with 1:15 left.
Defensively, the Badgers gave up too many open looks from the 3-point arc and got overpowered in the lane when the game was still competitive. They were outrebounded 32-18 and outscored in the paint 36-12.
The play of freshman Nathan Reuvers was one of the few bright spots for Wisconsin. He finished with 10 points, hitting two 3-pointers and blocking a shot in 10 minutes.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes shot 18 of 23 (78 percent) in the first half, including an 8-of-9 run during a 5-plus minute stretch that opened up an 18-point lead. Coach Chris Holtmann’s team won comfortably after blowing double-digit leads in back-to-back losses to Clemson and Butler.
Wisconsin: Things were going so poorly that Badgers fans offered mock applause when the Buckeyes finally missed their first 3 of the game at 3:38 of the first half after making their first seven attempts. Offensively, ball movement was a problem for a roster relying on four freshmen to either start or play key roles off the bench. Coach Greg Gard must make sure the disastrous opener doesn’t weigh on the minds of his young squad.
Ohio State: Hosts Michigan on Monday.
Wisconsin: Travels to Penn State on Monday.