With strong offensive performances from both Chucky Hepburn and AJ Storr, the Badgers were still not able to pull through due to their first-half defense and inability to hit the deep shots.
Offensive Grade: C
The Badgers were great inside the three-point arc, scoring 40 points in the paint, which is twice what Michigan did.
This was also without much help from Steven Crowl, who entered foul trouble early and took a mere four shots from the field, hitting only 1. Without strong production from Crowl throughout the game it was hard for the Badgers to control the pace and game offensively.
This led to what we continue to see from the Badgers this season, as they had stretches where they did not score. Big man play is essential for the Badgers offense to get into a rhythm and go on their long runs, but if they can not get that going early, it becomes difficult for them to get into a rhythm later.
On the other side, Chucky Hepburn finally looked for and got his shots in this game. He went 2/3 from deep and also took his driving lanes to get to the basket. The Badgers’ inside attack was as good as their three-point shooting was bad.
Scoring at ease inside pushed Michigan to suck in their defense and focus on those inside drives and cuts which left wide-open three-point shots that were simply missed. The Badgers were 26 percent from three, dropping to 18 percent in the second half, which is just not enough to get it done.
It is going to be key down the stretch for Hepburn to continue to look for his shot. He was very efficient today and provided a boost for this offense when it truly needed a scorer.
Defensive Grade: B-
The Badgers did not play horrible defense to be fair, as they were very active with their hands and got quite a few strips down the stretch.
With Steven Crowl in foul trouble, Wolverines center Tarris Reed had a game, as he was overpowering inside and forced the defense to help, leading to open shots on the perimeter.
Dug Mcdaniel had himself a first half with 11 points in the first 13 minutes, scoring at will against Hepburn early.
Michigan was 54 percent from the field in the first compared to the Badgers’ 46 percent.
With the Wolverines scoring where they wanted, it was hard for the Badgers to really get much momentum on defense over the first 20 minutes.
Even on stretches where the Badgers would play well defensively, they would combat that with poor offensive play, not playing good complementary basketball. The issue on defense was rarely effort, but really the game of momentum and rhythm.
With McDaniel getting into an early rhythm, the other Wolverines were able to feed off that and continue their attack, not really giving the Badgers a chance to recover.
This game was not a game that the Badgers should have lost, but slow starts and bad stretches have really hurt this team.
This has been an issue we have seen in the last two Wisconsin losses as well where the Badgers would come to a standstill on offense. Even with three Badgers in double figures, they could not find their gear on offense.
Their normal efficiency was clearly not on display and they also turned the ball over 12 times.
While Connor Essegian has found his footing recently, his play was simply not good on Wednesday. He went 0/3 from the field and had a +/- of -11, playing subpar defense.
This kind of play really kills momentum and turns good runs into negative ones. Head coach Greg Gard needs to continue their good offensive scoring runs by keeping the squad that is playing well on the court, as too many substitutions, in part due to the heavy foul trouble, are hurting the momentum of the game.
As we head into March, it is important for the Badgers to not be afraid of pushing that gas pedal when they have the lead and continue to play tough hands-up defense.