Wisconsin took their first lead of the game with 3:04 left to play and pulled out yet another home win 54-48 over Michigan. The Badgers came out firing blanks, starting the game 0-8 and 1-13 from the field. Michigan’s biggest lead was 11 points in the first half. DeShawn Sims was a one-man wrecking crew for the Wolverines. He had 8 points and 7 rebounds in the first 10 minutes and finished with 23 and 14. Unfortunately for Michigan, Manny Harris never got rolling and neither did anybody else.
Wisconsin did their thing; they just kept grinding away at Michigan until the Wolverines were nothing more than a heap of Maize powder on the Kohl Center floor.
When Stu Douglass drained two triples in 20 seconds to put Michigan up 39-30 with 9 minutes to play, I thought they had a chance to pull the upset. Instead the Wisconsin mill starting churning and the Badgers finished the game on a 21-7 run, fueled by Trevon Hughes and Rob Wilson. The Badgers kept grating and grinding until Michigan fractured and splintered and the hopes of a key road win were ultimately shattered.
The loss simply continues Michigan’s frustrating season and really puts pressure on them to go into Purdue on Saturday and steal a win. If they don’t, they will come home to face Michigan State with back-to-back loses and the feel good Connecticut win will be a fading memory.
The laundry list of problems for Michigan in this game include; a whopping 1 point off the bench, Sims was 9-14 from the field and the rest of the team combined to shoot 8-30 (27%), the Wolverines turned the ball over 14 times, conversely Wisconsin only turned the ball over 6 times, and Michigan’s resolve was staggered in the last 10 minutes of the game. When the Badgers were in the midst of that game ending run, Michigan needed a leader on the floor to hold things together, like John Beilein said the leadership has to come from somewhere else besides him alone. I didn’t see any of the players taking charge on the court. That’s not to say it didn’t happen, I just didn’t notice anybody trying to rally the troops to try and withstand the Badgers mind numbing efficiency and execution down the stretch. Michigan was out of synch at the end and Wisconsin played almost perfectly in the final minutes, particularly the last 3 minutes.
Wisconsin is an incredibly difficult place to win and the frustrating part is the Badgers opened the door to being upset with their poor shooting. When that door is opened even a crack, it has to be blown off the hinges and the opportunity has to be seized. This game will be added to the stack of frustrating loses with the Alabama, Boston College, Indiana, and Northwestern games and as that stack gets bigger, the Wolverines NCAA Tournament chances get smaller.
John Beilein, “We have to make shots…I thought we had some really good looks We’ve got to make those shots if we’re going to win on the road and we didn’t make them tonight that’s for sure.”
Bo Ryan on DeShawn Sims: “We were trying to take certain things away from him, but he was tough. He’s a tough match-up because he’s not that tall, but he’s long and strong.”