ANN ARBOR — Michigan avoided a second-half letdown and pulled off a big upset as a result, beating No. 11 Wisconsin 72-68 at Crisler Center on Wednesday night.
Michigan coach Juwan Howard, celebrating his 51st birthday, made some adjustments to his lineup in the second half that paid dividends. Michigan led by four at half and played the Badgers to a draw after halftime. The Wolverines had been outscored after halftime in 11 straight games, seven of which they led at half, and had lost 10 of them.
Wednesday’s win didn’t come easy. Wisconsin led by four with a little more than 13 minutes left, but this time the Wolverines didn’t fold.
Dug McDaniel led Michigan with 16 points, 11 of which came in the first 11 minutes. The starting point guard sat for more than 11 straight minutes in the second half, with fellow starter Olivier Nkamhoua sitting for an overlapping eight-minute stretch.
A.J. Storr had 20 for Wisconsin (16-7, 8-4), which entered the game tied for second place in the Big Ten. Michigan, which had lost five straight, all by double digits, moved to 8-15 (3-9). A trip to Nebraska on Saturday is next.
Will Tschetter had 11 points for Michigan, including three clutch baskets after halftime. Tarris Reed Jr. added 12 and Terrance Williams II scored 10.
Wisconsin went ahead 43-42 with 16:13 left. Tyler Wahl found Storr cutting backdoor, and Storr converted a catch-and-shoot layup. It was Wisconsin’s first lead since about five minutes into the game.
The Wolverines were down four before an 8-0 run gave them a 52-48 lead with 11:23 left. Sandwiching a media timeout during the run, Tschetter drew an offensive foul on Wisconsin starting center Steven Crowl, his fourth, and canned a 3 off of a designed play.
Reed shook his defender out of his shoes for a dunk and, a minute later, made two free throws to make it 60-52 with 7:22 left. Tschetter’s 3 touched a good portion of the basket before falling, extending the lead to nine with 5:45 remaining.
Wisconsin got within two late, but never closer, and Michigan did enough down the stretch to earn the much-needed win.
Michigan led by just one when Nkamhoua went to the bench with 11:36 remaining, joining McDaniel, who’d sat a minute earlier. Those are two Michigan’s top scorers on the season. By the time one of them (Nkamhoua) returned eight minutes later, Williams was sinking two free throws to put Michigan ahead 67-60.
Michigan led by five with 2:09 remaining when Wahl (12 points) missed the front end of a one-and-one at the foul line. In what has become a far too common occurrence this season, Michigan allowed an offensive rebound and basket, as Storr strolled in untouched and uncontested for a layup.
After that, the teams traded fruitless possessions before McDaniel checked in with 1:22 left. It was his first action in more than 11 minutes, and he promptly banked in a running floater to make it 69-64.
Wisconsin’s Chucky Hepburn had a 3 go in and out that would have tied the game with 26 seconds left. Wisconsin shot just 5 of 19 from 3. Wisconsin fouled McDaniel, on purpose, and he split a pair at the line. Michigan fouled Hepburn, by accident, and he made both to finish with 17 points. That made the margin two; McDaniel went to the line again and made both with 10 seconds left, and Wisconsin’s desperation 3 was off, sealing Michigan’s first win since Jan. 15.
Michigan went ahead 19-15 with 12:11 left in the first half on a Nkamhoua 3 after Tschetter retrieved two Michigan shots that didn’t hit the rim. McDaniel hit a 3 to give him 11 points and Jaelin Llewellyn followed with a triple of his own to make it 29-20 Michigan with 7:28 left in the half.
The Badgers grinded away at the lead for the rest of the half. Wahl’s easy layup got them within one with two minutes left. Nkamhoua’s pretty bounce pass to a cutting Tschetter resulted in an and-one. Those were the final points of the half, and Michigan led 37-33 at the break.
First appeared on www.mlive.com