Wisconsin win streak stays alive
The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team had grown accustomed to blowing out opponents, particularly those from the Big Ten Conference.
But when Manny Harris and the young Michigan Wolverines strutted into the Kohl Center, they gave the Badgers—freshly minted with a No. 11 ranking, their highest of the season—everything they could handle Tuesday night.
And yet in a game that came down to the wire, somehow, someway, Wisconsin avoided that nasty upset bug that’s been going around college basketball and staved off Big Blue, 64-61, to gain a half-game lead at 6-0 in the Big Ten.
A big-time three-pointer from Marcus Landry, some clutch free throws from sophomore Jason Bohannon, and feisty all-around play from Michael Flowers and Joe Krabbenhoft helped the Badgers (16-2)) escape with the victory over upstart Michigan (5-14, 1-6).
“We’ve been in this situation before,” Krabbenhoft said after the Badgers notched their 10th straight win. “We’ve just got to be calm out there. We can’t get down on ourselves. We always feel like we’re going to come out on top.”
Landry, who tied with Flowers for the UW lead with 14 points, took a pass from Trevon Hughes and sank a three-pointer with 19.2 seconds remaining to give Wisconsin a 62-58 lead.
“I thought Trevon was going to come off the ball screen and shoot it, but I saw he kept driving,” Landry said. “He had nowhere to go, so I came over and just put it up there.”
The Badgers made a timely stop, and young Bohannon was called upon to hit free throws in a one-and-one situation to put the game away.
In front of a deathly silent crowd, Bohannon converted both shots, putting the game out of reach for Michigan and sending the Badger faithful into the wildest frenzy of the season.
“We all know what kind of shooter Jason is, especially at the free-throw line,” Krabbenhoft said. “We were all confident in him, and I think he had the most confidence out there to knock those free throws down.”
While Landry and Bohannon delivered the fireworks on the offensive end, Flowers and Krabbenhoft did the dirty work on the defensive end to preserve the victory. With the Wolverines controlling the ball down by two with 3:30 to go, Flowers stripped the ball from Jevohn Shepherd for one of his three steals, tied with Hughes for the game high.
Then, with Wisconsin leading by one with 50 seconds to go, Flowers tipped the ball away from Harris on a drive. There was a mad scramble for the loose ball, and Krabbenhoft, who has made his name known for being a hustle player and doing the little things to win games, came up with it and immediately called timeout.
Landry nailed the dagger shot on the ensuing possession.
“You’ve got to be able to make plays on both ends,” Krabbenhoft said. “When I see the ball just bouncing around, I feel like I can just get on my horse and try to go get it.”
After Landry put UW up by four, Michigan’s DeShawn Sims missed a three-pointer, and Krabbenhoft again came up with the long rebound, setting up Bohannon for his free throws to send the Wolverines packing.
Michigan had several opportunities to take the lead, but Wisconsin never trailed in the second half.
“It’s very important to stay on top,” Landry said. “If you do all the right things, you’ll end up on top, and that was very important to keep the lead.”
n Senior center Greg Stiemsma played nicely in limited minutes, with two points, two rebounds and two blocks in eight minutes.
n Brian Butch scored eight points and was on the bench for most of crunch time, a move UW coach Bo Ryan attributed to defensive matchups.
n The Badgers next hit the road Saturday against Purdue.