Michigan started cold in its 68-59 Big Ten Tournament loss to Wisconsin, but the Badgers were below freezing. Wisconsin made only three of 20 field goals (0-for-7 from three-point range in falling behind 14-6 with 7:27 remaining in the first half and never heated up. Still, the Badgers only trailed 20-17 at the break with U-M playing to their level offensively, taking advantage in the second half.
The Wolverines connected on only 10 of 29 shots in the first half (34.5 percent), going 0-for-5 from three-point range. They had some moments in transition, including a highlight reel alley-oop from sophomore Trey Burke to Tim Hardaway Jr., but U-M struggled to finish in close. Burke, freshman Nik Stauskas, freshman Glenn Robinson and Mitch McGary (twice) all missed rim from less than five feet.
Ben Brust finally ended the Wisconsin scoring drought at 6:15, making a triple that cut it to 16-9. The Badgers reached double figures at 4:50 following two missed Caris LeVert free throws, getting one from the line from Ryan Evans to make it 16-10.
A Stauskas jumper off the dribble put the Wolverines up eight on the next possession, but the Wolverines stalled again. They blew a transition opportunity with a turnover and Burke missed a short jump shot from the free throw line.
One of the few positives from a first half in which the Badgers only made five shots, other than the defense - the Wolverines were solid on the glass in the first half, notching 25 rebounds to Wisconsin's 20. U-M turned it over an uncharacteristic eight times, though, in a disappointing display.
Redshirt junior Jordan Morgan played only four minutes in the first half after struggling again early, replaced by Jon Horford and Mitch McGary. Each scored two points, with Horford picking up three fouls.
A Robinson III runner at :25 allowed the Wolverines to hit the 20 mark, but the Badgers' Traevon Jackson nailed a triple with four seconds remaining in the stanza to make it 20-17 at the break.
Michigan was also 0-for-4 from the free throw line in the half.
Morgan fumbled an entry pass on Michigan's first possession for a turnover, but Wisconsin missed three point-blank opportunities in the first minute in a replay of the first half.
Morgan fumbled another offensive rebound and the Badgers worked inside/out on every possession, finally tying it at 24-24 on a put back from big man Jared Berggren. McGary replaced Morgan again in the first few minutes.
The Badgers' offense consisted of posting up and backing down with Ryan Evans, finding the open man and finishing, and it was successful. U-M, meanwhile, continued to struggle offensively, missing three short jump shots in the first three minutes, two by Burke. Robinson went 0-for-2 on his first free throws of the second half, and the cold shooting allowed the Badgers to take a four-point lead at 30-26 with 14:30 remaining.
The teams finally starting heating up at 13:00, but Wisconsin was hotter. The Badgers made three triples while U-M did all of its scoring from inside the lane. Back to back buckets from Burke had it 37-34 Badgers at the 11:50 mark.
Michigan went to the 1-3-1 at 11:00, but Brust busted it with a triple to push the lead back to six. The Wolverines were in trouble when Burke missed a short jumper at the other end, but Hardaway Jr. finally nailed Michigan's first triple at 10:15 to cut it back to three.
The Badgers simply couldn't miss. They shot 17-for-28 in the second half and continued to work Evans against Glenn Robinson III, opening a 49-42 lead on Evans' 10-foot jumper with 7:50 remaining
Another Hardaway triple from the top gave U-M life on the next possession, but Jackson countered with a jumper from the top. Two Evans free throws at 6:40 made it an eight-point game and expanded to 11 after Brust nailed a triple from the corner.
Four straight points from Burke and, finally, some defensive urgency, helped U-M climb back into it. It was 56-50 at 4:28 when Evans was called for an offensive foul. McGary cut it to four with a putback at 4:10 and Burke to two with 3:35 left on a strong take and reverse, setting up a down to the wire finish.
The stretch was all Wisconsin. The Badgers' Frank Kaminsky got a roll on a jumper, while Burke missed a bunny and committed a foul at 2:04 that put Jackson at the line. Stauskas missed a three from the top of the key at 1:45, and Wisconsin was in full control. The Badgers closed it out with buckets late in the clock and from the line, scoring 51 second half points.
Burke scored 19 on 8-of-22 shooting while Hardaway Jr. notched 14 and nine rebounds, McGary nine points and seven boards and Robinson III eight points. Stauskas struggled to four points on 1-for-8 shooting (0-for-4 from long range).
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