Michigan coach John Beilein used the correct end-game strategy and more notes
It was a strategy John Beilein has used before with success.
The Michigan basketball coach had his team burn up the four fouls it could commit before sending Wisconsin to the free-throw line on Wednesday night.
The strategy burned up all but six seconds of the Badgers' last possession and prevented them from getting a decent shot. As it turned out, freshman guard Josh Gasser didn't need a decent shot. His buzzer-beating heave gave Wisconsin a 53-52 win at Crisler Arena.
“That’s just smart by them,” Gasser said. “That’s good basketball. They had fouls to give and the right plays to make.”
Gasser said it is not a scenario Wisconsin practices often and it allowed Michigan to force the Badgers to take a poor percentage shot.
It still happened to be one Gasser made at the buzzer to turn a Michigan win into a loss.
“We had (fouls) to give,” Beilein said. “I mean, you want to do that. They were down two, the strategy is not to take the last shot. They’re going to be aggressive and go right at you and try to tie the game.
“They’re not going to wait for the last shot, not down two. So you just try to ease it down and get it as low as you can.”
Moving up? For the second straight game, sophomore guard Eso Akunne played in the first half of a game after registering Did Not Play-Coach’s Decision or mop-up minutes for almost all of the Big Ten season.
But the recruited walk-on from Ann Arbor's Father Gabriel Richard High School played for three minutes in the first half.
“I’m just doing what I’m told and practicing hard,” Akunne said. “And if I get in, I play hard. That’s it.
“Coach always tells you to stay ready. Coach says on the bench to stay ready in case you get put in. Just have to help out your team when your number is called.”
Akunne recorded no statistics in his three minutes, but against Iowa on Saturday he scored his first basket since the Gardner-Webb game on Nov. 21.
This and that Sophomore guard Josh Bartelstein sat out again and is still not cleared as he recovers from a concussion. Freshman guard Tim Hardaway Jr. hit four 3-pointers, moving into 17th on the single-season list by passing Dion Harris, who hit 58 in 2003-04. Next is LaVell Blanchard’s 66 3-pointer season in 2002-03.