Wisconsin uses a second-half run to pull away from Michigan basketball
Updated 11:51 p.m.
MADISON, Wis. — John Beilein warned this might happen. The fourth-year Michigan basketball coach said his team had to be so careful with the ball and efficient with their possessions against Wisconsin.
Otherwise, there’d be little chance Michigan could win.
For a half, Michigan heeded Beilein’s advice. But in the second half, as Wisconsin always seems to do, the Badgers started forcing Michigan into things and made them take bad shots while Wisconsin countered, leading to a 66-50 win over Michigan on Wednesday night.
“The difference between them and us, we just make a few plays to beat ourselves, a few,” junior guard Zack Novak said. “And they just don’t make ‘em.
“It’s the timing of those plays, a 6-to-9 point swing, that’s the game.”
There weren't many possessions that cost Michigan (11-4, 1-2 Big Ten). Six of them actually. But in those six possessions, Wisconsin took almost five minutes off the clock. It hit three 3-pointers, including one from Jordan Taylor, who led the Badgers with 20 points.
And it ended up turning a 33-32 deficit into a 42-33 Wisconsin lead. Once that happened, Michigan had to play from behind.
Young teams playing from behind are prone to struggle. Doing so against the Badgers (12-3, 2-1), who use up the shot clock on almost every possession, becomes almost impossible.
“They’ve got a way of just eating up possessions,” Michigan redshirt freshman forward Jordan Morgan said. “They milk the clock as much as they can on every possession and them getting offensive rebounds and we have turnovers, it’s just a killer.”
In that six-possession stretch, Michigan turned the ball over twice and allowed Wisconsin one offensive rebound that led to a minute-long possession.
Michigan tried to come back, crafting an 8-3 run to cut the Badgers’ lead to four, 48-44, after a 3-pointer from sophomore Matt Vogrich.
The Wolverines, though, would get no closer.
Wisconsin hit shots from the outside. It went inside when necessary and made 14 of 16 free throws. Michigan’s defense, which had done a respectable job in the first half, also faltered as Taylor had 17 of his 20 points in the second half.
“It’s different when the defense is right in front of you and you can talk them through a lot of things,” Beilein said. “In the second half, they get down next to Bo and Bo’s talking to their offense, it’s hard. It’s hard.”
It also erased a good first half for Michigan, one of the best the Wolverines have played all year.
Even with sophomore guard Darius Morris in foul trouble — he played just five minutes in the first half, a season-low — Michigan moved the ball well. It found open shooters.
Freshman forward Tim Hardaway Jr. slashed through the lane to score all 10 of his points in the first half and Novak scored nine of his team-high 15 points.
“It was defense and the intensity level we were playing at,” Hardaway Jr. said. “Everything was going our way. We were taking charges and solid, straight man-to-man defense and we were getting rebounds.”
That all led to Michigan’s offense, something Beilein stressed before the season. But the Wolverines couldn’t maintain the intensity in the second half. The pace wore on Michigan.
And Wisconsin did what it almost always does at the Kohl Center, what it has done 92 percent of the time under coach Bo Ryan.