Ann Arbor — Even with some of his best teams in recent years — laden with NBA talent — Michigan coach John Beilein only had beaten Wisconsin twice in the past five meetings.
Without Caris LeVert, their top scorer and lacking experienced depth, the Wolverines faced another tough challenge against the No. 6 Badgers, who are regarding as national-title contenders.
UM took the game to the final seconds but fell to Wisconsin, 69-64, in overtime before a packed house at Crisler Center on Saturday night in the finale to the ESPN "College GameDay" bonanza.
Derrick Walton Jr. (17 points) hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to tie it at 57 with 1.3 seconds left to send it to overtime. Wisconsin scored the first six points of the extra period and the Wolverines (12-8, 5-3 Big Ten) never got closer than four the rest of the way.
"I'm really proud of the way our kids competed. We're learning about competing and we're going to get better at it," Beilein said. "It's still not where it's going to be but it's a very positive step in that direction today."
Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky, a preseason All-American, scored nine of his 22 points in overtime and added nine rebounds to help Wisconsin (18-2, 5-1) pull away.
"Let's face it — he's one of the best players in the country and I don't say that often because I let other people judge," Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. "Frank means a lot to this team."
Kaminsky and Sam Dekker (15 points) accounted for all 12 of Wisconsin's points in overtime. Kaminsky started with a three-point play and Sam Dekker (15 points) followed with a 3-pointer for the Badgers' only two field goals; Kaminsky added six of eight free throws in the final 3:24 to help finish the win.
Michigan fought from behind, overcoming an 11-point deficit over the last 16 minutes of regulation, spurred by an 11-0 run to tie it at 38. Wisconsin stretched the lead to seven with 7:32 remaining but the Wolverines clawed their way back, with Walton scoring their last seven points of regulation.
On the tying shot, freshman Aubrey Dawkins went up and found Walton, who hit one of his two 3-pointers in the game.
"Every day, we work on that last-second situation and Wisconsin played it similar to the guys who guard us in practice," said Walton, who was 4-of-12 from the field. "Aubrey jumped in the air to pass and both the guys followed him and he turned around and found me. I was blessed enough to hit the shot."
UM was able to stay close in the first half behind an improved defense that switched between a 2-3 zone and 1-3-1 zone and kept Wisconsin off balance. They forced six first-half turnovers after the Badgers had only one in their 32-point shellacking of No. 25 Iowa on Tuesday.
In the first half, Michigan used a 15-7 run to take a 17-16 advantage — its first lead of the game — after back-to-back baskets by Max Bielfeldt (nine points, five rebounds) and a jumper by Zak Irvin (12 points).
The Wolverines led, 23-21, with 3:14 left but Nigel Hayes (10 points) had a three-point play and Dekker added had another after a highlight-reel dunk. Hayes finished with a 3-pointer with two seconds left for a 30-23 Badgers lead at halftime.
Freshman Ricky Doyle had one of his best games in weeks, as he battled back from an upper-respiratory infection and played 24 minutes, with four points and five rebounds.
"With a premier big man like Frank and Nigel Hayes as well, we knew we couldn't get punked," Bielfeldt said. "If they were coming in and we didn't bring that toughness or physicality, they would have beaten us by a ton, but we had to establish that physicality with the younger guys."
Michigan went more than six minutes without a field goal and the Badgers extended the lead to 38-27 with 16:04 left. But the Wolverines rallied, using a 14-3 run to tie it at 38.
Five UM players had baskets during the spurt and after Bronson Koenig (13 points) ended the streak with a 3-pointer, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman answered with a 3-pointer.
Wisconsin bounced back, though, with seven straight points, including two baskets from Dekker and a 3-pointer by Josh Gasser to push the lead to 48-41 with 7:32 left.
The Wolverines surged again, with Doyle hitting two free throws and Irvin hitting a 3-pointer and following with another basket to cut it to 50-48.
Walton also hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to one with 11.5 seconds left to make it 55-54, then Koenig hit the first but missed the second on a one-and-one opportunity.
On the ensuing possession, Dawkins went up for the 3-point try but passed to Walton, who hit the tying shot.