On Tuesday night, the No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers (10-3 overall, 4-2 Big Ten) played one of their worst games in recent program history losing to the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (11-0 overall, 6-0 Big Ten), 77-54.
At one point, the Badgers were down 40 points and if Michigan wanted to it appeared like that could’ve been the final margin. In the middle 20 minutes of the game, the Badgers were outscored 51-9 (!!!) while UW’s largest, and only, lead of the game came at 5-4 with 17:42 to go in the first half.
Per ESPN, @umichbball is the first team in *college basketball history* with three straight wins over ranked opponents by 19+ points.— Michigan Alumni (@michiganalumni) January 13, 2021
There were plenty of people questioning the legitimacy of this Wolverines team before Tuesday night’s game and I have to imagine there aren’t any left after the demolition Michigan performed on Wisconsin. Here are some post-game quotes from head coach Greg Gard and senior PG D’Mitrik Trice.
- When asked about what went wrong overall, “Our lack of aggressiveness. I think that was the difference.”
“Once the game was already out of hand we got a little bit better. They were able to put us on our heels and we didn’t respond the way we needed to respond.”
- Gard mentioned that the team would be spending Tuesday night in Ann Arbor, Mich. before flying out to New Jersey on Wednesday and staying there until Friday night’s game against Rutgers.
- “I wanted to see how we handled tonight...we’re gonna see a team (Rutgers) that’s going to come after us in the very same fashion.”
- Gard didn’t think about putting Micah Potter back in during the first half with two fouls because the score was still close.
- On where he thought the game got away from UW, “I thought the two turning points were the two turnovers (back to back, wing entry pass and then Trice ran into Reuvers, both led to layups) that combined with Potter not being in there gave them momentum.”
- “We got to a point where we were taking a lot of jump shots, too many jump shots.”
“We gotta be more efficient, we gotta take better shots.”
- “We’ll look back and learn (on the tape)...there’s no better solution than jumping right back on the court.” Gard said that the team always can learn something from a game, even one that appears as bad and useless as this one.
- On being down 40 in the second half, “Obviously I thought that’s a lot of points.”
- “We definitely showed some fight (at the end) I think, and we have to continue to work with that.” Trice seemed disappointed in the team, and himself, during his whole interview but thought that some of the positive steps the team took near the end of the game could be carried over to Friday.
- “We never responded the way that we wanted to. They came out with a lot of fire and passion on the defensive end.”
“We’ve got to come out (on Friday against Rutgers) with some energy, some passion and some fight from the very beginning.”
“Their bench was a little more energized and you could feel that on the floor.”
So I lumped all three of these last quotes together because it has become a bit of a theme for the Badgers in their losses, and a few of their wins, this year: the other team having more “fire” or “passion” or whatever you want to call it.
Wisconsin is a veteran team that is extremely even-keeled. They never seem to get too high or too low during a game, and that has helped them come back from deficits before! But this team seems to start slowly and when they’re not playing Nebraska, or whoever, it can bite them in the ass.
The fact that opposing teams’ benches have been loud and boisterous and supportive, doesn’t strike me as something that should be a HUGE deal, but it is brought up regularly, while being clear to anyone watching the games, and with no fans in the arena maybe it’s something UW needs to work on?
In the Badgers 13 games this year, they’ve been losing or tied after the “first quarter” in five games. Their record in those five games is 2-3.
Slow Starts for Wisconsin
It will be interesting to see what kind of first 10 minutes the Badgers have against Rutgers on Friday because you might be able to predict the outcome judging by the score.