Badger men lose second straight
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wisconsin's lead in the Big Ten is gone.
The 10th-ranked Badgers took the court Thursday night against Michigan without senior guard Bronson Koenig, who was ruled out because of a bothersome left-calf injury he has been battling since last month.
They also took the floor at the Crisler Center looking for an offense that had been AWOL for several games.
Ethan Happ carried UW's offense into the second half, but crucial turnovers and missed shots down the stretch doomed UW as the Wolverines rallied for a 64-58 victory.
“We had some timely miscues that allowed them to get loose, whether it was for a three or something at the rim,” UW coach Greg Gard said, adding his team hit 10 of 16 shots at the rim in the first half but only 7 of 20 after halftime. “And then obviously some turnovers at bad times.
“So you add those up and you are trying to dig out of a hole.”
The Badgers (21-5, 10-3) aren't in a hole but they are now tied for first in the league with Purdue (21-5, 10-3) and Maryland (22-4, 10-3).
Purdue hosts Michigan State on Saturday. Maryland visits the Kohl Center at noon Sunday.
Michigan (17-9, 7-6) won its third consecutive game and snapped a five-game losing streak against UW.
Happ, faced a single defender for most of the game Thursday and flourished.
He scored 18 points in the first half to help UW carve a 31-30 lead and finished with 22 points, six assists, five rebounds, two steals and a block before fouling out with 36.9 seconds left and UW down, 63-56. His last basket came with 13 minutes, 24 seconds remaining, and UW had no one else to pick up the slack.
Freshman D'Mitrik Trice, starting in place of Koenig, had nine points, five rebounds and four assists (all in the first half) but had an awful night shooting. Trice hit 1 of 6 three-pointers and 2 of 15 shots overall as UW finished 3 of 16 from three-point range (18.8%) and 23 of 60 overall (38.3 percent).
“I know in the first half I had a lot of great looks and they just rimmed out or rattled (out),” Trice said. “I've got to help myself … whether that is getting an assist or knocking down a shot.”
Khalil Iverson was the only other UW player to score in double figures. He finished with 10. Zak Showalter, who did yeoman work defending Derrick Walton Jr., added eight points.
Senior Nigel Hayes hit 3 of 7 shots and added six points. Senior Vitto Brown missed all five of his shots and finished with no points and two rebounds in 18 minutes.
“Seniors have that sense of what time of year it is,” Gard said when asked about the minimal contributions from Hayes and Brown. “Clock is ticking. We need to have more contributions.”
When will Koenig return?
“I don't know,” Gard said. “It will be day to day. It has been and will be in the medical staff's hands. … I don't know when, if.”
Michigan used balanced scoring and timely three-pointers (9 of 23) to subdue UW as Moritz Wagner (21), Zak Irvin (18) and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (12) combined for 51 points on 19-of-34 shooting.
Walton Jr. in the previous five games averaged 23.0 points per game. He missed his first five shots Thursday and finished with five points on 1-of-8 shooting. He did contribute eight assists and five rebounds, however.
“They crowded me really well, limited my touches,” he said. “They made every shot I got really tough.”
Abdur-Rahkman scored eight of his 12 points in the second half. His four-point play gave the Wolverines the lead for good, at 51-47, with 7:51 left. Walton made the pass and Trice committed the foul.
“He hit the biggest shot of the night in my opinion,” Walton Jr. said. “Once he made that shot I had a great feeling that we were going to hold on and win.”
Last updated: 10:43 pm Thursday, February 16, 2017