Morley had a career-high 23 points on 8-for-11 shooting and Wisconsin No. 22 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) finished strongly to beat Ohio State 60-49 on Friday night in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
"Any night would have been a good night. Come out there tonight and had some shots fall. That got my confidence up," said Morley, who scored on a variety of moves, first in the post and then on the perimeter.
"Anytime you can get the closer shots to get your confidence up, it helps. Once I had the chance to get some outside chance, I opened up and knocked them out. It always helps to start out low," he said.
With Tucker and Wilkinson having sub-par games with 12 points each, the Badgers turned to Morley and to their defense, which held Ohio State scoreless in the final three minutes.
And the Buckeyes shot just 34 percent for the game, including a horrendous 2-for-20 from the 3-point line, where they missed their final 18 attempts.
Tony Stockman, the hero of an opening-round win over Penn State, was 0-for-8 on 3-pointers. Matt Sylvester, whose last-second 3-pointer knocked top-ranked Illinois from the unbeaten ranks last Sunday, was 0-for-4.
"I don't know that there is an explanation. I don't know if it's nerves," Sylvester said. "I don't know if it's still the thought of the Illinois game in our minds or nerves of being in the Big Ten tournament. We just didn't hit them. And it's sad because we've hit 3s all year. They didn't fall for us today."
The Badgers (21-7), who won the Big Ten tournament a year ago in Indianapolis, will meet Iowa in the semifinals Saturday. The Hawkeyes upset Michigan State 71-69.
The Buckeyes (20-12) are going home for good, no chance for the NCAA or NIT because of a self-imposed school ban on postseason play to mitigate possible NCAA penalties stemming from violations committed under former coach Jim O'Brien.
"You lose a game, you are going to be upset. I think maybe a little bit more because we won't play another one until probably November," Dials said. "You've got a long time to think about this one."
Tucker and Wilkinson struggled from the field, going 4-for-13 and 5-for-15, respectively, before Morley bailed them out.
The 6-foot-8 Morley, known for his moptop hairdo, got his points in just 28 minutes and also had seven rebounds.
"He was able to get to rim a couple of times, he was able to get to post. Mike and Tucker struggled with balance in the post when we got it in there," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "We just needed some better finishes and Zach seemed to be the guy. He's always aware. He's always a guy that likes to play. We're hoping tomorrow he can come back and give us the same thing."
Trailing by 11 at the half, Ohio State started the second on a 10-2 spurt behind four points each from Dials and Sylvester to close to within three.
Ohio State forged its second tie of the half at 39 on a layup by Je'Kel Foster before Morley hit a 3-pointer and another jumper and Wilkinson sank two free throws and banked in a shot to put the Badgers up 48-41.
But Dials scored, Sullinger tipped in a miss and Stockman made two free throws to make it 48-47 with 4:20 to play.
Morley once again hit a jumper -- this one popped up and then went in -- to give the Badgers some breathing room. And after making a nice lob pass to Tucker for a basket, Morley banked in a shot with 1:52 left, starting the Badgers' closing run.
Morley added two free throws and Tucker four points to put the Buckeyes away.
Wisconsin took a 29-18 halftime lead, using 10 points from Morley, a 21-4 run and an aggressive defense.
But there would be no easy victory for the Badgers, who beat the Buckeyes twice in the regular season.
The Badgers fell in an early 8-2 hole and then held Ohio State to one basket over the next seven minutes while using a 15-2 run to build a 17-10 lead.
Sylvester scored to cut it to five, but then the Badgers took off again with eight straight points for a 13-point lead.
Ohio State ran off six in a row before Tucker grabbed two straight offensive rebounds and scored, and Morley made a spinning move a basket in the closing seconds for the 11-point lead.