Badgers top Michigan with second-half surge
CHICAGO (AP) — Wisconsin just kept missing. The Badgers were icy cold from long range, simple layups a risky proposition. And they only trailed by three at the break.
When Ben Brust and Co. finally found their stroke, it was all over for Michigan.
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Brust scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half and No. 22 Wisconsin knocked off the sixth-ranked Wolverines 68-59 in the second round of the Big Ten tournament on Friday.
“Just a great team effort,” coach Bo Ryan said. “Guys picked each other up. They didn’t get frustrated when the shots weren’t going down in the first half. We took care of that in the second half, and continued to hustle on defense.”
Traevon Jackson had 16 points for the Badgers (22-10), who will play top-seeded Indiana in the semifinals on Saturday. Ryan Evans added 12 points, six rebounds and six assists.
“It’s the old cliche, defense wins championships,” Evans said. “We understand that here. Anything we can do to slow those guys down and get our shots will move us forward.”
Trey Burke had 19 points and seven assists for Michigan (26-7), but the Big Ten player of the year was 8 for 22 from the field. Tim Hardaway Jr. shook off an ankle injury in the first half and finished with 14 points and nine boards.
“We had some chances to take the game back over and get back in front and we just couldn’t do it,” coach John Beilein said. “A lot of that has to do with how we develop as a team and a lot has to do with how talented a team Wisconsin really is.”
The Wolverines advanced with an 83-66 victory over Penn State on Thursday, setting up a sequel to one of the best games of the season. Wisconsin rallied for a 65-62 victory over Michigan on Feb. 9 when Brust hit a tying 3-pointer from just inside midcourt at the end of regulation, then hit another big 3 with 39 seconds left in overtime.
This one was lacking that sort of drama, but still had a compelling finish.
Wisconsin warmed up in the second half, putting together a 10-0 run to take a 29-24 lead with 15:09 to go. Brust hit a 3-pointer, Jared Berggren converted two layups and Frank Kaminsky capped the run with another 3.
Michigan tried to rally, but Wisconsin had an answer each time. And the Badgers had a couple of different players step up at crucial points.
Mike Bruesewitz and Brust each hit a big 3-pointer. Evans wriggled free for a layup and a jumper to extend the lead to 49-42 with 7:56 left. Brust tacked on another 3 from the corner to extend Wisconsin’s lead to 11, forcing a Michigan timeout with 6:01 remaining.
“We wanted to go inside out, and that’s how we started the half,” Evans said. “I started with a bucket, and they had to collapse. Then our 3-pointers, Mike and Ben — it was good to see Mike get going today.”
The Wolverines put together a 9-0 run to get within 56-54, but Kaminsky made a pull-up jumper as the final seconds of the shot clock ticked off. Burke then missed inside, Jackson went 1 for 2 at the line to make it a five-point game, and the Badgers closed it out from there.
Bruesewitz, Berggren and Kaminsky had eight points apiece for the Badgers, who made 16 of 21 foul shots.
Michigan got a scare midway through the first half when Hardaway twisted his left ankle when he got his foot caught under Bruesewitz after he attempted a floater in the lane. He had to be helped to the locker room, but he returned a couple minutes later, earning a round of applause from the sellout crowd.
“It was hurting for a little bit when I came back out, but it loosened up while I was playing on it and it got better while the game was going on,” he said.
The contrasting styles of the high-scoring Wolverines and defensive-minded Badgers were on full display during an ugly first half that featured almost as many turnovers (14) as field goals (15).
Burke helped send a charge through the crowd with a long alley-oop to a streaking Hardaway, who soared in for the dunk with 11:49 to go. Hardaway saluted the crowd as he bounded down the court after the big jam.
But Berggren immediately dunked on the other end for Wisconsin, and the Badgers used their stifling defense to stick around despite an awful shooting display. Jackson hit a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left to trim Michigan’s lead to 20-17 at the break.
The halftime statistics were alarming for both sides. The Badgers were 5 for 29 from the field, but the Wolverines were only slightly better at 10 for 29. Michigan missed all five of its foul shots and committed eight turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
The Badgers bounced back, shooting 60.7 percent in the second half, compared to 46.4 percent for the Wolverines.
“I think we’ve got a really talented group of guys, and when we come together, we can beat anybody,” Jackson said.