Wisconsin holds on to beat Michigan
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Wisconsin was on the verge of wasting a tremendous first half, so with Michigan rallying and the crowd roaring, the Badgers calmly went inside to Frank Kaminsky.
“I wanted the ball in my hands,” the 7-footer said. “I was able to make some things happen.”
Kaminsky had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 21 Wisconsin smothered No. 15 Michigan in the first half before holding on for a 75-62 victory Sunday. The Wolverines cut an 18-point deficit to three in the second half, but Kaminsky personally went on a 7-2 run after that, helping Wisconsin regain control.
“We were talking about touching the post, yes,” Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. “They were playing him tough. Once he got it 12 feet away, 12 to maybe 15, that's when he made his moves, and actually used his body as well as I've ever seen him on a consistent basis.”
The Badgers (21-5, 8-5 Big Ten) committed only two turnovers en route to their fourth straight win.
Caris LeVert scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half for Michigan. Sam Dekker finished with 15 points for Wisconsin.
The Badgers led 34-19 at halftime after holding Michigan (18-7, 10-3) without an assist in the first half.
“They're a difficult matchup for anybody they play,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “Once we get down like we got down, it's tough to come back because of their ball-control offense. They make timely shots, they've got a great plan—and really played a high-IQ game today.”
Michigan entered the day tied atop the Big Ten with rival Michigan State—the Spartans played later Sunday against Nebraska. Michigan now has a week off before hosting Michigan State next Sunday.
The Wolverines won at Wisconsin last month, but they looked out of sorts from the start in the rematch. The Badgers opened the game with a 12-2 run, and Michigan's normally fluid offense was totally out of rhythm. Wisconsin forced seven turnovers in the first half and hardly allowed an open shot.
“We tried to work harder and be better at some of the things we do,” Ryan said. “Defensively, that's a very solid effort by our guys—against a team that can score.”
It was 34-16 near the end of the half, and as the game progressed, the Wolverines seemed to become increasingly reliant on long jumpers from just inside the 3-point line.
“Defensively we were pretty bad today, especially in the first half,” Michigan's Nik Stauskas said. “We dug ourselves into a big hole we really couldn't get out of.”
LeVert's two free throws capped a 9-0 run that made it 52-49. Then Kaminsky went back to work. He scored inside, drove for a layup and then added a three-point play that made it 59-51 with 3:48 remaining.
“It was a fun environment,” Wisconsin's Josh Gasser said. “Frank made a bucket there, and that got us back where we needed.”
Kaminsky later stepped outside and made a 3-pointer to push the lead to 13 at 65-52. He finished 11 of 16 from the field against a Michigan front line that is without Mitch McGary, who is recovering from a back injury.
Wisconsin hit a rough patch after a 16-0 start, but now the Badgers again look like one of the Big Ten's best teams. This was the second time this season they've committed only two turnovers in a game.
“To come out like that and build ourselves a lead and maintain it throughout the whole game, against a team that really beat us up at home, is a great thing,” Kaminsky said.
Wisconsin has now won five of its last six in Ann Arbor.
Gasser had 13 points for Wisconsin. Stauskas scored 11 for Michigan and Glenn Robinson III added 10.
Wisconsin is now 9-2 away from home this season, and this may have been the most impressive road win for the Badgers.