- Associated Press - Saturday, February 1, 2014

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Lenzelle Smith Jr. whiffed on a layup, fell to the floor and Ohio State thought another tight game was about to slip away.

But behind Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes finished strong. The senior scored all seven of his points in the final 4 minutes, LaQuinton Ross added 13 for the game and No. 24 Ohio State held on after a turnover with 8 seconds left for a 59-58 win Saturday over No. 14 Wisconsin.

Sam Dekker missed a 3 at the buzzer for Wisconsin, which suffered a third straight home loss in a bruising back-and-forth affair with the Buckeyes (17-5, 4-5 Big Ten).

After a humbling loss in Columbus in overtime earlier in the week to Penn State, coach Thad Matta’s team escaped intact this time.

“I thought we had better composure. I thought we had a better pace about us,” than in the loss to the Nittany Lions, Matta said. “I thought we executed better down the stretch.”

Smith’s slip-up was a huge exception. He got the ball in transition after Traevon Jackson missed a free throw, then was accidentally bumped to the floor by teammate Amir Williams after getting his own offensive rebound.

“You wouldn’t expect anything less with what we’ve gone through this year, right? That’s kind of how our year has gone,” Craft said.

The Badgers (17-5, 4-5) set up for Jackson, who has had his moments hitting game-winning shots. Ohio State was prepared, and Wisconsin settled for a decent second option in Dekker before he missed the 3.

Another tight loss averted.

“Going through it last game helped us a lot today,” Craft said. “Everyone had a look in their eye in the timeout, and we didn’t want that to happen again.”

Freshman Nigel Hayes had 17 points for the Badgers, which is free-falling down the Big Ten standings following a fifth loss in six games after a school-record 16-0 start.

“In this league against good teams you have to play the full 40 minutes. Every possession.” said guard Josh Gasser (seven points, six rebounds). “Sometimes you just have to make a play or two. … They just made one more than we did.”

Ohio State was in a similar spot coming into the afternoon after losing five of six following a 15-0 start.

Matta sought more toughness from his team after the loss to Penn State, and the coach’s tough love seemed to pay off at Kohl Center.

“There were a lot of times where we beat ourselves gambling on defense or rushing a shot on offense or not winning on screens,” Craft said. “Those were things that we wanted to sharpen up.”

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