DeShwan Sims drives to the basket at Wisconsin. AP photo.
When it came to crunch time, Michigan’s basketball team got crunched Wednesday night at Wisconsin.
The Wolverines led the No. 18-ranked Badgers for 37 minutes but after 40 minutes Wisconsin had the lead and wrapped up the win, 54-48.
“We played hard and well most of the way and we’re proud of that,” said Michigan coach John Beilein.
But he wasn’t talking about the final three minutes. Wisconsin missed its first eight shots and hit just one of its first 13 from the field as Michigan jumped out to a 8-0 lead and held the Badgers to a season-low 18 points in the first half.
Wisconsin outscored Michigan, 17-4 over the final seven minutes of the game and 36-27 in the second half.
Wisconsin, 15-4 overall and 5-2 in Big Ten play, held Michigan scoreless for four minutes late in the contest and tied the game, 45-43 on two free throws by sophomore Rob Wilson with 4:14 to play.
The Badgers took its first lead of the game with just under three minutes to play on a long two-point jumper by Trevon Hughes. Hughes led Wisconsin with 20 points.
“The effort and energy we got off the bench in the second half (was the difference),” according to Hughes. “We started the game flat. Actually we got some good open looks but we just weren’t knocking them down.”
Wisconsin shot just 34 percent from the floor (18 of 53), but hit seven straight free throws in the final two minutes to salt the game away.
“We couldn’t get some shots to drop and they hit some really timely, tough shots down the stretch and got to the foul line on us,” said Beilein. “Those were the keys.”
Michigan is 10-8 overall and 3-3 in league play and was hoping for a second straight upset after beating Connecticut last Sunday. Michigan has now dropped seven straight to Wisconsin and nine straight at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Michigan is 2-2 against ranked teams this year, with wins over Ohio State and Connecticut and losses to Kansas and Wisconsin. Wisconsin is 50-0 at home against unranked Big Ten opponents under Badger coach Bo Ryan and 11-0 at home this year. Ryan is 99-40 in nine Big Ten seasons.
“Defensively you have to keep going toe-to-toe to give yourself a chance (after a tough start),” Ryan said.
After a strong performance against Connecticut, it was a tough game for Michigan’s bench. The Badgers subs outscored Michigan, 19-1. The only Michigan bench point was a free throw by Darius Morris. Michigan starter Zack Novak was held scoreless in 36 minutes of play.
DeShawn Sims was outstanding for the Wolverines. The 6-7 center scored 23 with a season-high 13 rebounds, both game highs.
“He’s a tough matchup,” Ryan said of Sims. “He’s not that tall but he’s long and strong.”
Michigan will play another nationally-ranked team when it travels to Purdue on Saturday.
For more info: mgoblue, Wisconsin athletics, Detroit Free Press