Michigan came off the road and back to Crisler Arena looking to stay atop the Big Ten in a rematch against Wisconsin. The Wolverines stumbled to their worst half of the season in the opening 20 minutes, though, absorbing a 75-62 home loss.
The Wolverines hadn't lost at home since dropping a two-point decision to No. 1 Arizona in December. In this one, though, they just couldn't get out of the gate, digging too deep a hole to crawl out of in the second half.
They fought back to whittle an 18-point deficit down to three in the second half, but Wisconsin's inside muscle down the stretch made the difference.
Caris LeVert gave Michigan much of its offense pacing the Wolverines with 25 points. Nik Stauskas scored 11 and Glenn Robinson III 10, with Frank Kaminsky put on a show with 25 for the Badgers.
Wisconsin immediately raced out to a 5-0 lead, Josh Gasser tossing down an early three-pointer for the Badgers. A second Gasser three moments later put the Wolverines in a 10-2 hole, which grew to 12-2 before Stauskas' tough bank shot stopped the bleeding.
The Badgers ran the margin out to 16-7 at the 11:40 mark of the half, taking advantage of Michigan turnovers and five offensive rebounds in the opening 8:20. Wisconsin also got off to a 7-for-11 start shooting the ball, compared to U-M's 3-for-9 with not one three-point attempt in those opening moments.
The lead stretched to an even dozen, 23-11, with 8:08 remaining, the Wolverines suffering breakdowns on defense, an inability to create any transition and struggling in the halfcourt. Sam Dekker's three-pointer made it 26-11, before LeVert's three-pointer with 6:14 remaining temporarily halted the run-out.
A Ben Brust three thrust the Badgers back into a commanding lead, 31-16, heading into a timeout with 3:54 left in the half. U-M limped to the halftime locker room down 34-19, following its most brutal half of basketball all season.
The rest of the halftime numbers looked no better than the score. Michigan went 7-for-22 (31.8 percent) from the floor, 2-for-7 (28.6 percent) from three-point range and managed just four free throws, making three.
The Wolverines got beaten up on the boards, 20-15, surrendering eight offensive rebounds. No less than 16 of Wisconsin's first-half points occurred in the paint, with Michigan scoring just four from close range. One very telling stat on a team that usually handles well and shares the basketball - Michigan racked up seven turnovers and not a single assist in the first half.
A pair of LeVert three-pointers and a jumper by Robinson brought the crowd to life, chopping the margin to 42-31 with 14 minutes left. LeVert then dropped a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to single digits, and the crowd cut loose.
LeVert stayed hot, a third three making it 52-43 with just over eight minutes remaining. He then hit a driving layup to slash the margin to seven, and Robinson added a jumper to make it 52-47 and set the crowd on fire with 6:51 remaining.
It felt like Michigan-Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in reverse, with the road team jumping to the huge lead and the home crew roaring back. LeVert's two free throws at 6:16 made it 52-49, and the noise in Crisler grew deafening.
The Badgers began pounding it down low to Kaminsky, though, and he started single-handedly holding off the home team. His three-point play with 3:48 remaining pushed Wisconsin's lead back to 59-51.
Gasser followed with a three-pointer off a picked-off Stauskas pass, and the Badgers stonewalled the rally. A Kaminsky step-back three with just over two minutes remaining sent fans streaming toward the exits, the Wolverines down 65-52.
After that, the fouls flurry played out in a bad home loss.