The Buckeyes (20-3, 8-2 Big Ten) entered Saturday just a half game ahead of the Badgers for first place in the conference, but got 16 points from Deshaun Thomas and 11 from William Buford to earn their first victory in Madison since 2000. They have won five straight and seven of eight overall.
The Badgers (18-6, 7-4), who entered Saturday on a six-game win streak, were paced by Ryan Evans' 14 points. Jordan Taylor added 12 points and six assists while Mike Bruesewitz finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
"We take pride in how hard we play, that's what you have control over," said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. "The results after the game is done, you can't change."
Ohio State had dropped nine straight at Wisconsin and found itself down late in the first half before unfurling a 9-2 run to take a 24-20 lead. Sullinger and Buford were personally responsible for the burst, scoring five and four points, respectively. The Buckeyes never trailed again.
The advantage remained at four, 28-24, at the break and was extended to seven, 45-38, on a three-point play by Lenzelle Smith Jr. with just over eight minutes remaining. The Badgers, though, continued to hang around.
They cut their deficit to one, 51-50, on a Bruesewitz trey with 3:46 left before Buford answered with a three a little over a minute later to make it a four-point game.
"It was obviously a big time shot," said Ohio State coach Thad Matta. "I've got great faith in William and that was a big, big time shot for us."
Wisconsin wouldn't get any closer. Bruesewitz missed a three on the team's next possession and Taylor turned the ball over after a Sullinger miss. Buford and Aaron Craft both hit a pair of free throws in the closing minute to seal the win.
The Buckeyes earned their first win in Madison since January 13, 2000...Matta notched his 12th straight 20-win season...Sullinger, a sophomore, surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career, becoming the 48th Ohio State player to do so...The Buckeyes lead the all-time series, 83-65.