Michigan still in first despite loss to Wisconsin
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)
Michigan slipped a bit in the Big Ten title race - but only momentarily.
The 15th-ranked Wolverines were smothered in the first half of Sunday's 75-62 loss to 21st-ranked Wisconsin, but Michigan got a reprieve later in the day when Michigan State lost at home to Nebraska. The Wolverines and Spartans remain tied for first in the conference.
Michigan now has a week off before hosting Michigan State next Sunday.
''My old saying: We learn a lot more in defeat than we do in victory,'' Wolverines coach John Beilein said. ''We'll learn a lot from this game.''
Michigan (18-7, 10-3 Big Ten) cut an 18-point deficit to three in the second half, but Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky personally went on a 7-2 run after that. The Badgers (21-5, 8-5) committed only two turnovers en route to their fourth straight win.
Kaminsky finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Caris LeVert scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half for Michigan.
Sam Dekker had 15 points for Wisconsin.
The Badgers led 34-19 at halftime after holding Michigan without an assist in the first half.
''They're a difficult matchup for anybody they play,'' 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.''
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,'' Wisconsin coach Bo 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.
''We're playing really good teams, and you have to play well,'' Beilein said. ''And sometimes you can't control that. Sometimes a ball's not going to bounce your way.''
Wisconsin has won five of its past six in Ann Arbor.
''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.
Gasser had 13 points for Wisconsin. Stauskas scored 11 for Michigan and Glenn Robinson III added 10.