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Loss to Michigan drops Wisconsin into three-way tie for Big Ten lead

The Badgers struggled to keep up with the Wolverines in the second half.

Wisconsin at Michigan - Men's Basketball Highlights | Big Ten Network

Wisconsin suffered its second straight loss on Thursday, losing 64-58 at Michigan.

With the loss, the No. 11 Badgers (21-5, 10-3 Big Ten) move to 10-3 in conference play and fall into a three-way tie for first place in the Big Ten, sharing the lead with No. 16 Purdue and No. 23 Maryland with five games left in the season.

Wisconsin played without senior guard Bronson Koenig in Ann Arbor, ending a streak of 84 starts for Koenig, who first entered the starting five when Traevon Jackson suffered an injury during the 2014-15 season.

Koenig had been playing with a calf injury since Wisconsin’s win over Penn State on Jan. 24. His absence from the starting lineup meant the Badgers would end a streak of 38 games where they featured the same starting five.

In Koenig’s place, freshman D’Mitrik Trice made his first career start and became the fifth true freshman to start for Wisconsin since 2000, following Devin Harris, Alando Tucker, Josh Gasser and Sam Dekker. Trice finished with nine points, going 2-of-15 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.

Top Plays vs. Michigan | Wisconsin Badgers

The Badgers missed Koenig’s touch from behind the arc, as they were only 3-of-16 (18.8 percent) from deep. Michigan (17-9, 7-6 Big Ten) fared much better at 9-of-23 (39 percent).

Even with their misfortunes from outside, the Badgers were able to keep the game close in the first half, scoring 22 of their 31 first-half points in the paint. Wisconsin finished the half 11-of-16 inside the paint and 3-of-14 outside it (1-of-7 from behind the arc). UW took a 31-30 lead into half with both teams shooting over 45 percent from the field.

Ethan Happ scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the first half and teamed up with Khalil Iverson, who scored eight of his 10 points in the first half to combine for 26 of Wisconsin’s 31 first-half points. The duo was 12-of-14 from the field, but in the second half combined for only six points on 4-of-7 shooting. Happ also later fouled out of the game.

While and Happ and Iverson slowed down in the second half, the rest of the team stayed cold and continued its poor shooting from outside of the painted area, hitting three of its 16 shots in the final 20 minutes. The Badgers still shot better up close, as they were 6-of-14 inside the paint. Wisconsin finished the second half shooting 30 percent from the field for an overall game total of 38.3 percent.

Apart from Happ and Koenig, the other three mainstays in the starting lineup combined for 14 points. Zak Showalter scored all eight of his points in the second half and Nigel Hayes finished with six points, while Vitto Brown finished 0-of-5 from the field.

While Wisconsin struggled to close out the game, Michigan continued where it left off in the first half, hitting 4-of-10 from outside during the final 20 minutes and finishing the game shooting 46 percent from the field.

Leading the way for Michigan were Moritz Wagner (21 points, 3-of-6 from behind the arc) and Zak Irvin (18 points). Irvin broke out of a slump in which he had failed to reach double-digits in four straight games.

Wisconsin last held the lead with 10:47 remaining in the second half at 47-45. Michigan then went on a 9-0 run over the next 4:24 to go up 54-47 before a Jordan Hill three-pointer brought the Badgers back within four at 54-50.

Over the remaining 6:23, Wisconsin’s struggles from the floor thwarted any possibility of a comeback, as it went 1-of-10 from the field and 6-of-6 from the line while allowing Michigan to finish 4-of-6 from the field and 1-of-4 from the line over that span.

Wisconsin hosts Maryland on Sunday with at least a share of first place on the line.