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Wisconsin pads resume, beats Michigan 60-55

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Associated Press
March 1, 2009
— Most people would say Wisconsin took a big step toward assuring its NCAA tournament fate Sunday. Not Badgers coach Bo Ryan.

Not one prone to public evaluations of his team's tournament resume, Ryan brushed off a question about what the 60-55 victory over Michigan might mean to the Badgers' postseason hopes.


"Got me," Ryan said.


But Wisconsin's Joe Krabbenhoft knows the win puts Wisconsin (18-10, 9-7 Big Ten) in pretty good shape. That certainly wasn't the case in January, when the Badgers lost six straight and almost certainly would have found a way to blow a game like Sunday's.


"We're not blinded by all the talk about March Madness," Krabbenhoft said. "We like it just as much as you guys, and we're looking forward to the tournament. We know that we can really help ourselves winning the next few games like we did today."


Trevon Hughes scored 19 points as Wisconsin played its first game since last Sunday, a loss at Michigan State that snapped its five-game winning streak.


DeShawn Sims scored 17 for the Wolverines (18-12, 8-9), who had been building some tournament momentum of their own with a recent victory over Purdue. And Michigan certainly had its chances Sunday despite scoring only two points in the first 10 minutes of the second half.


Michigan coach John Beilein said Wisconsin's deliberate style and good defense make it tough for teams to come back on them.


"Being down by five or seven is being down like 15 to other people," Beilein said. "It's just really hard. They shorten the game, and you're really going to have to make some huge shots."


Manny Harris added 15 points for Michigan, but shot 5-for-14 from the field.


Harris opened the second half with a pair of turnovers, and things got worse from there for the Wolverines. Wisconsin held Michigan to 1-for-12 shooting in the first 10 minutes after halftime.


"That's something you can not do, especially on the road get down and try to come back," Beilein said.


But the Badgers didn't exactly take advantage of the Wolverines' offensive struggles with a scoring outburst of their own.


Jon Leuer's jumper put Wisconsin up 45-36 at the 13:12 mark, but Michigan broke out of its slump to cut the lead to 45-41 on a 3-pointer by Laval Lucas-Perry and a driving layup by Harris.


"It just didn't fall for us in the first ten minutes," Sims said. "We bounced back, though."


The Badgers later went back up by 6 on a 3-pointer by Hughes, but Sims hit a driving layup and a turnaround jumper on back-to-back possessions to cut Wisconsin's lead to 52-50 with 3:55 remaining.


Krabbenhoft hit a pair of free throws, and Harris answered with a putback of his own miss.


The Badgers would struggle from the free-throw line down the stretch, hitting only four of their next eight before Jason Bohannon iced the game by hitting a pair with 5.7 seconds left.


Ryan didn't seem particularly concerned about the free throw shooting afterward.


"It's kind of obvious, you'd like to get two," Ryan said.


Krabbenhoft joked that the poor performance was a byproduct of a high school wrestling tournament that kept the Badgers from practicing in the Kohl Center on Friday or Saturday.


"It was the wrestlers' fault," he deadpanned.



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