Tempers erupt, Juwan Howard strikes as Michigan fades against No. 15 Wisconsin
Madison, Wis. — During one second-half possession, Michigan grabbed two offensive rebounds and put up three 3-point shots within a span of nine seconds.
Sophomore center Hunter Dickinson missed the mark. Fifth-year senior guard Eli Brooks clanked his attempt. Grad transfer guard DeVante’ Jones didn’t fare any better and couldn’t get his deep ball to fall.
It was that type of day as Michigan’s couldn’t overcome another woeful outside shooting performance and an overwhelming second-half flurry from No. 15 Wisconsin in Sunday’s 77-63 loss at the Kohl Center that ended with a postgame altercation.
Dickinson finished with 21 points, Brooks scored 14 and Jones added 11 points, seven assists and six rebounds for Michigan (14-11, 8-7 Big Ten), which shot 16% from 3-point range (4-for-25) and trailed by double digits over the final 10:31.
“I think a lot of our shots were good shots,” Dickinson said. “Shots that if you weren't looking at how we were shooting in our percentages we were all fine with each other taking. They just happened not to go in.
“When you stop shooting that shows a lack of confidence in yourself. That's the worst thing that can happen in basketball is when you don't have confidence in yourself.”
The Wolverines used a strong start out of the break to force an early Wisconsin timeout. Following a dunk by Dickinson, Brooks buried a 3-pointer in transition then came away with a steal on the ensuing possession that led to a fast-break layup and a 38-33 lead less than 90 seconds into the second half.
After Brad Davison snapped Michigan’s run with Wisconsin’s first made 3-pointer at the 18:24 mark, the Wolverines’ offense went away from Dickinson and missed 15 of its next 16 shots, many coming from beyond the arc. The Badgers took advantage of the dry spell with a 23-3 surge to pull ahead for good, 56-41, with 8:52 to play.
Brooks snapped a nearly six-minute field-goal drought and a string of nine unanswered Wisconsin points with baseline floater, but if offered little reprieve as the long-range bricks continued to pile up and Johnny Davis took over. Davis scored nine straight points, including a three-point play and three baskets in the paint, to put Michigan in a 15-point hole.
“We did have some mental lapses on defense. I think that was a big thing for us,” Jones said. “Johnny Davis hit some tough shots and they just fed off that.”
Freshman forward Caleb Houstan snapped a five-minute, 21-second scoring drought and Davis’ personal run with a corner 3-pointer and sophomore forward Terrance Williams II followed with a layup to cut the deficit to 56-46 with 6:50 remaining.
But that’s as close as the Wolverines would get. The Badgers’ lead ballooned to as much as 19 points and Wisconsin took two timeouts in the final minute that irked Michigan coach Juwan Howard, particularly one with 15 seconds remaining.
“We came out in the second half with a run and defensively got stops when we needed it," Howard said. "Then when they made their run and, unfortunately, we had some shots that were open, particularly 3-point shots, that just didn't fall down.
“Johnny Davis did a really good job of attacking the paint, finishing too many paint touches in the second half. He’s a very special player and Wisconsin put him in the position to take advantage of our defensive lapses.”
During the postgame handshake line, Howard argued with Wisconsin coach Greg Gard over the late timeout before hitting Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft in the head. That sparked a scuffle where players from both sides threw punches, including Michigan’s Moussa Diabate and Williams.
Davis finished with 25 points, Steven Crowl added 11 points, and Tyler Wahl, Chucky Hepburn and Davison scored 10 apiece for Wisconsin (21-5, 12-4). The Badgers shot 4-for-13 from deep and were outrebounded 38-28, but they scored 44 points in the paint and shot 50% from the field (29-for-58).
“It's unfortunate that (postgame altercation) overshadows a fabulous day for Wisconsin basketball,” Gard said. “We played really well (in the second half), did some really good things on both ends of the floor.
"I thought it was a good college game. Michigan had been playing well, what they did the other night in Iowa. It's unfortunate that that at the end has to be a topic of discussion."
Michigan got off to a crisp start by creating good looks around the basket. The Wolverines scored their first 12 points in the paint, with Dickinson doing much of the damage. He scored off a high-low pass from Diabate, a pick-and-roll feed from Jones and made two hook shots to give Michigan a 12-10 lead with 11:50 left in the first half.
The Wolverines’ post defense couldn’t prevent the Badgers from finding similar success around the rim. Wisconsin scored its first 12 points in the paint and made the first basket outside of the paint when Hepburn knocked down a jumper at the 10:02 mark.
Wisconsin continued to score inside as neither team could make outside shots. Davis capped a 9-2 spurt with a driving layup to give Wisconsin a 23-16 lead. Michigan responded with a 13-4 run that featured a 3-pointer by Houstan — the first of the game after Michigan missed its first nine attempts and the teams started a combined 0-for-14 from deep — and a three-point play by Dickinson.
The teams entered the break tied at 31. But after all the success Michigan had running the offense through Dickinson in the first half, it dissolved over the final 20 minutes.
“I trust what Coach Howard draws up. He's a genius when it comes to basketball,” Dickinson said. “I have faith in my teammates to hit their shots when they shoot them. There's five guys out on the floor and it would be selfish of me to want every touch. I trust…everybody else on the team to shoot their shots.”