Winners of four-straight, the Wisconsin Badgers (18-10 overall, 11-6 B1G) men’s basketball team was back in action Thursday night taking on the No. 19 Michigan Wolverines (18-10 overall, 9-8 B1G) in Ann Arbor.
Michigan came in riding their own winning streak, of five games, as both the Badgers and Wolverines were jostling to stay in contention for a crucial double bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
In the end it was the Badgers who were able to keep their winning streak rolling up to five games in a row, winning 81 to 74.
In the opening minutes of the game, the Badgers would leap out to a quick 16-9 lead in the first five minutes of game action. Wisconsin would continue their hot start to keep Michigan at an arms length lead of seven with 7:41 to play thanks to the phenomenal play of D’Mitrik Trice and his early 13 points. Micah Potter was a huge lift off the bench as well in the first half, as the Badgers were great on each end of the court in the first 13 minutes.
Over the final seven minutes of the first half, the Badgers would continue to pile on the road game energy to extend the lead to 14 with only 4:08 to go. The Wolverines were able to chip away at the Wisconsin advantage slightly thanks to the stellar play of Xavier Simpson, but in the end the Badgers were able to hold a 10 point, 43 to 33 edge at the break.
About as good of a first-half as you can ask for. #Badgers up 43 to 33, shooting an astounding 63% from the field and 45.5% from deep.— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) February 28, 2020
Trice (13), Potter (11) and Ford (9) pacing the offensive explosion.
In the first few moments of the second half, Michigan would go on an 10-0 run to chip away at the Wisconsin lead, and secure momentum on their side. However, Greg Gard’s crew would respond quickly with an 8-0 run of their own to offset the damage done and regain control.
Wisconsin retained control of the game for most of the second half thanks to impressive shooting and ball movement, but Michigan made a big run to cut the deficit to only three with 2:50 left to play in the game.
In the final minutes of the game, the Badgers would go on to salt away the game with some timely scoring, to hold on for a narrow 81 to 74 victory.
And there it is.— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) February 28, 2020
Wisconsin makes it five in a row, taking down Michigan on the road 81-74!
Trice lead the way with 28 points and four assists.
Notable stat lines:
- D’Mitrik Trice —> 28 points (10-of-16 from the floor), four assists, one rebound
- Micah Potter —> 18 points (7-of-12 from the floor), seven rebounds, one block
- Aleem Ford —> 18 points (6-of-8 from the floor), eight rebounds
- Zavier Simpson —> 32 points (14-of-22 from the floor), five rebounds, six assists
Get dunked upon Michigan...wowza Micah Potter.— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) February 28, 2020
Three things that stood out:
No. 1: Three-headed monster
Over the past handful of games D’Mitrik Trice has been playing extremely well. While he had some highlights in the previous four games, especially with his ability to distribute the basketball, he elevated his game further against Michigan in the scoring department. The junior point guard was an absolute maestro offensively against one of the best point guards in the Big Ten. In the first half alone Trice had 13 points, and would go on to finish with 28 points and four assists on 83% shooting from three.
Alongside Trice, Micah Potter was also a standout against the Wolverines. With Nate Reuvers battling foul trouble, Potter picked up the slack on both ends of the court. The junior forward was able to do it both inside and outside on offense, scoring 18 points and also reeling in seven rebounds for the game.
WETNESS! D'Mitrik Trice currently pic.twitter.com/X7qzpbJd1O— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) February 28, 2020
Last, but not least, Aleem Ford was huge all night long well. Ford contributed 18 points and eight rebounds, and was especially astute when the offense broke down at creating scoring chances for the offense.
The trio of Trice, Potter, and Ford were vital in the Wisconsin win, weathering the absence of leading scorer Nate Reuvers for large chunks of the game. All three players are playing their best basketball of the season, and they are a big reason the Badgers have won
No. 2: Shooting
In the first half against Michigan, the Badgers were scorching the nets. Wisconsin shot 63% from the field and over 45% from three. Everything was working offensively thanks to some great spacing and ball movement. Wisconsin particularly did a nice job of using the pick and pop to create tremendous shooting chances. When shooting opportunities from the screen weren’t there, the Badgers were also first-rate at taking their defenders off the dribble to take advantage of the mismatches created from the pick-n-roll game.
In the second half, Wisconsin would start out the half on a patented scoring drought of over three minutes, but that didn’t last long. The Badgers would go on to get right back to where they left off, shooting 53.7% for the game from the field.
Wisconsin has shot remarkably better over the course of the past few games, as the team is playing with confidence.
Wisconsin is scoring again!!! pic.twitter.com/uNDgtlBZPe— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) February 28, 2020
No. 3: Three-point defense
Coming into this game, Michigan was tied for fourth in the Big Ten in three-point shooting percentage, making 34.5% of their 24 attempts per game.
Against Wisconsin, Michigan only attempted three shots from behind the arc in the first-half due to some very good perimeter defense by the Badgers. Wisconsin was very good on switching and communication, and the result was a lack of opportunities for the Wolverines.
For the game, Michigan would only make 3-of-10 from downtown, as the Badgers closed out nicely and contested every look available.
On the contrary, Michigan came into the game as the tenth best three-point defense in the country. On Thursday night Wisconsin torched them to the tune of 11 makes in 23 attempts.
Wisconsin is playing some great basketball lately, and have really rallied together with strong defensive communication and improved offensive efficiency.
Up next: The Badgers will be back to the friendly confines of the Kohl Center on Sunday for a 5:30 p.m. CST tip with Minnesota. The game will be televised on BTN.