Wisconsin took an early lead and held it to nearly the end of the first half as Senior forward, Ethan Happ dominated the court. Happ racked up 14 of the Badgers’ 27 points in the first half, along with two fouls. The Wolverines struggled early in the first half, shooting 40%, but got it together close to halftime to tie the game 27-27. Michigan was kept afloat by Junior center, Jon Teske and Sophomore guard, Jordan Poole with a combined 15 points. As the two teams headed into the locker room in a dead heat, the second half seemed even more daunting.
Soon after the teams took the court, Happ earned his third foul and was benched for a little more than nine minutes while the rest of his team worked hard to keep it close. During these crucial minutes, Michigan stepped it up and took the lead that they were able to maintain for the remainder of the game. This lead was possible because of the leadership of Senior guard, Charles Matthews who had 16 of his 18 total points in the second half. Alongside Matthews was Teske, with 10 points and Sophomore forward, Isaiah Livers who clinched the win with two made free throws and a dunk to seal the deal.
As the Wolverines continue with their season, it is clear that this team still has some inconsistencies to work out. With Freshman forward, Iggy Brazdeikis scoring only 2 points yesterday and not scoring any against Wisconsin in January, his part in these close games is illuminated. The difference he can make in these games is crucial if the Wolverines want to consistently beat big competition. Matthews did his part in the second half proving that the leadership this senior demonstrates is essential to getting Michigan the momentum they need to overcome tough opponents like Wisconsin.
Michigan advances their record to 22-2 and remains 1st in the Big Ten standings. The Wolverines continue their Big Ten conference play as they travel to Happy Valley Tuesday to go up against unranked Penn State at 8:30pm on BTN.