Wisconsin wears down Michigan with size, strength
Chicago — For much of Friday's Big Ten quarterfinal, Michigan seemed to be re-enacting David versus Goliath against top-seeded Wisconsin.
The Wolverines needed a win to extend their season, while the Badgers were playing for a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
But just like the first meeting this season, Michigan stayed close until the final minutes ...
And Goliath won again.
Wisconsin pulled away in the final four minutes for a 71-60 victory over No. 9 seed Michigan.
"If anybody watched this game, you see how talented Wisconsin is," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "They've got a great game plan, but their size, their age, their strength, it was a huge part in the game."
Senior Frank Kaminsky, the Big Ten player of the year, had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Sam Dekker added 17 points, six rebounds and six assists, keying the decisive second-half surge for the Badgers. Wisconsin advances to face Purdue in Saturday's semifinals.
Zak Irvin had his third double-double this season (21 points, 11 rebounds) for Michigan, which will know its postseason fate late Sunday night.
But with 6 minutes, 8 seconds remaining Friday, it looked like Michigan would have a shot at something bigger.
Irvin made a 3-pointer that made it 54-54, but Kaminsky answered with back-to-back baskets for a four-point Badgers lead.
Ricky Doyle (12 points) followed with a lay-in, but Dekker made a 3-pointer and added two free throws to put the Badgers ahead by seven with 2:27 left.
"He's just an all-around player; he's a gamer," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said of Dekker. "He understands every little thing in a game ends up being something on this (stat) sheet or leads to something on this sheet. You never have to explain too much to him."
That sparked an 11-2 spurt and Michigan never recovered.
"We just had to get stops," Beilein said. "That was the issue in the second half — we couldn't stop them. Everything was going to have to break right and we were going to have to get them to miss some shots. It's almost impossible because they have so many passers to keep them from getting open shots."
Michigan had success in the first half, taking a 16-9 advantage the first eight minutes following a 12-2 spurt, sparked by Irvin's coast-to-coast basket and a 3-pointer by Spike Albrecht, who scored all 10 of his points in the first half. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Albrecht added baskets, and Irvin finished the flurry with a 3-pointer as Michigan started 7-for-11.
The Wolverines had their largest lead at 22-13 after back-to-back 3-pointers from Irvin and Albrecht, but the Badgers finished the half on an 18-4 run.
"We knew they were going to make their run, especially in the first half when we got up on them," Albrecht said "They are a very experienced team so we knew they were going to come back. We didn't finish the first half the way we would have liked to, obviously, but we came back and played really well in the second half to start.
"Unfortunately down the stretch, they made some big shots, got the loose balls, things like that. That's what wins game."
Michigan started the second half shooting 9-for-11 and scored eight straight for a 44-41 lead with 12:27 to go. But Duje Dukan hit a 3-pointer to tie it, starting a 10-2 run that swung the momentum back to Wisconsin.