Michigan 61, Wisconsin 52 Comment Count

Alex Cook February 9th, 2019 at 3:40 PM

For the second time this season, Michigan and Wisconsin played a tight, tense game featuring great performances from both starting centers and quality defense on nearly every possession. For the second time, the home team held a small lead for much of the second half, and never relinquished it, eventually pulling away for a comfortable margin of victory that belied how close the game was. Charles Matthews was the difference for Michigan, scoring an efficient 16 points after the break and showing off his entire offensive arsenal.

Early on, Ethan Happ was dominant. He started with an isolation drive on Jon Teske and made a layup to start the game — Wisconsin went with that look often, and Happ sometimes eventually settled into a post-up. Happ would score eight points before the first TV timeout, as Michigan chose not to bring the double team and had Teske guard him one-on-one. While Happ certainly got the best of that matchup early on, the effectiveness of his isolation takes and post touches waned over the course of the game. He did get Wisconsin out to a big lead early, as a D’Mitrik Trice three brought the score to 13-5.

Michigan finally got going offensively about midway through the first half. Ignas Brazdeikis — who had another rough game against the Badgers, scoring just two points on nine shots — was blocked at the rim by Nate Reuvers, but Michigan rescued the possession and was rewarded with an Isaiah Livers three. On the next trip down the floor, Eli Brooks set up Teske, who slipped a ball screen, for two more. Zavier Simpson got to his right and scored past Davison, then found Teske on a side pick-and-roll for a dunk to give Michigan its first lead of the game at 18-17 with nine minutes left.



The rest of the half was a slog. Iggy kept on missing shots (including some wide open looks), and Happ was no longer able to score at will — though he did score on Teske and Matthews on back-to-back possessions to give Wisconsin a lead. After a physical first half, he picked up his second foul with two minutes left by shoving Teske before catching an entry pass. Teske knocked down a pick-and-pop three on the next possession, and a Kobe King put-back tied the score at 27 right before halftime.

Both teams were still cold to open the second half, but one of the most consequential plays of the game came when Happ committed his third foul. He isolated Teske, drove, missed a reverse layup, and then hit Teske while going for the rebound. While Michigan would only outscore Wisconsin by four in the ten minutes Happ was on the bench, the Badgers were much worse without him. Frequently, they were leveraged into terrible shots — and to Davison’s credit, he knocked down a few big ones to prevent Michigan from pulling away — without the linchpin of their inside-out style.

Jon Teske carried the scoring early in the second half for the Wolverines, but the arrival of Charles Matthews decided the game. Matthews’s first play — a tap-out for an offensive rebound and Jordan Poole layup — was innocuous enough, but he took over from there. He posted up Brevin Pritzl and scored a layup after an aggressive move; he posted up King and while King knew he’d try a fadeaway over his right shoulder, Matthews still hit it. He made a wild layup over Reuvers, hit a step-back two over Pritzl, dished an assist to Teske after drawing help, and threw down a two-handed dunk after blowing by Khalil Iverson. Even though Michigan didn’t make a three in the second half (0-10), they scored enough to maintain a slim lead — and that was because of Matthews.



The Wolverine defense was fantastic, as always. Teske — who may have been trying to avoid fouling — conceded several baskets early in the game, but Michigan stuck with its gameplan. The Wolverines dared Happ to beat them, and while he had a 18 point, 11 rebound double-double, he took 19 shots and had 5 turnovers to just one assist. Michigan didn’t panic and didn’t risk double-teaming Happ at the expense of leaving other players open and having Happ, an excellent passer, create open looks. While Reuvers, Trice, and Davison each made a few nice offensive plays, Happ was the only Badger to finish with double-digit points. Michigan stuck to shooters, and Wisconsin went 4-12 from behind the arc.

A Happ layup after a Matthews switch cut Michigan’s lead to 51-50 with just over four minutes left, but Michigan scored the next ten points to put the game away. Simpson made an acrobatic reverse layup after catching Reuvers on a switch, and then Matthews hit two shots over Reuvers: a baseline jumper after a drive to the basket, and a beautiful step-back two to beat the shot clock. After that basket with four minutes left, Michigan stopped Happ on three straight possessions — Teske stole a high-low entry pass and then forced misses around the basket. The victory was capped off by a Poole to Livers alley-oop dunk after Poole broke the Wisconsin press.

It was an important win the chase for a Big Ten championship: Michigan’s two games ahead of Purdue (who has an easy remaining schedule) in the win column, and the loss pushes Wisconsin back to a tie for fourth with Maryland. Michigan’s defensive effort and execution was as good as ever, and Matthews may have rediscovered his game after a rough stretch of games. The Wolverines travel to Happy Valley to take on 1-11 Penn State on Tuesday.

[Box score after the JUMP]

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February 9th, 2019 at 5:28 PM ^

Z is the man, what a dog. I HATE Happ with a passion, so glad he lost. I still think we should have fouled him more but oh well, how did he score Wisconsins first 10 points!? On another note, it's nice to have Charles back, at least for a game, hopefully he can continue it, this team is slightly limited if he is only scoring 7 points a game.

yossarians tree

February 9th, 2019 at 6:47 PM ^

I have no problem with Happ. He plays hard but clean and the dude is an absolute magician around the basket. Those first five or six baskets were beautiful. I think he gets worn down because they use him so much and Teske's size got to him in the second half. Even then his footwork was beautiful but the ball just wouldn't go in. That team will be a tough out for anybody.


February 10th, 2019 at 1:09 PM ^

Teske was trying hard to stay out of foul trouble, so Happ had his way at the start.

Crazy idea, should we face them again: start Davis on Happ, keep him from getting into his favorite spot & getting really comfortable right from the start. 

If Davis picks up a few cheapies trying, oh well, put Happ on the line 🤷‍♂️


Go Blue in MN

February 9th, 2019 at 4:03 PM ^

Holy crap, the game open thread was even worse than usual today.  Do these people not realize that we have only six guys playing at a Big Ten level?  When a guy misses two or three shots in a row, it's always "______ is terrible, bench him!!"  For who, exactly?

And even if we had depth, players go through slumps.  As Beilein tells them, they need to continue to shoot if they are open.  Eventually, they'll break through, like Charles did in the 2nd half today.


February 9th, 2019 at 4:26 PM ^

Don't waste any time in the open threads on this website. They're a shitshow and full of awful hot takes (as you noted). It's also full of losers who only show up to shit on the players and coaches and then disappear again when Michigan wins.

Go to UMHoops.com and participate in their open thread. It's a complete 180 from the mgoboard and features actual intelligent in-game conversation and discussion.

Go Blue in MN

February 10th, 2019 at 10:48 PM ^

Beilein is not a good coach, he's a great coach.  How he's taken a hobbled program, stayed on the straight and narrow, and made Michigan into a national power is nothing short of amazing.  A call or two (like not calling a foul on Trey's block) and we would have won the title in 2013.  Final game again last year.  OK, I've already wasted too much time responding to someone who is either a troll, an imbecile, or both.


February 9th, 2019 at 10:19 PM ^

The Michigan game threads in football and basketball have been garbage here for years. There are some legit posters in them (or have been in the past) but it's swamped by people who want to REACT. I just take it as a given with any format of interaction that casts a wide enough net; not much difference between that and the one drunk guy who yells the same idiotic complaint over and over again three rows away from you at a football game. You see a lot of the same stuff on twitter, facebook, etc.

I just pulled the trigger on UMHoops and I might give it a try. I would imagine the barrier for entry cuts down on some of the impulse posting.


February 9th, 2019 at 7:59 PM ^

Livers could start for any team in the Big Ten. You could make a case for Davis Johns, and Brooks as Big Ten players. Brooks probably gets more minutes just because he is the best PG backup option. The gap between the top six and everyone else is large, so more players in the rotation would not be beneficial. There was the game where Johns was leading rebounder.


February 9th, 2019 at 7:59 PM ^

Livers could start for any team in the Big Ten. You could make a case for Davis Johns, and Brooks as Big Ten players. Brooks probably gets more minutes just because he is the best PG backup option. The gap between the top six and everyone else is large, so more players in the rotation would not be beneficial. There was the game where Johns was leading rebounder.


February 9th, 2019 at 4:16 PM ^

I'm enjoying this season and this team so much!

That was a team win; their defense absolutely strangled Wisconsin down the stretch. 

So great to see Charles have a big game. Iggy will get his. 

Big, big win against a hot team. Well done, Michigan!


February 9th, 2019 at 4:18 PM ^

What a weird second half.  Michigan goes 0-10 on mostly good threes but Charles Matthews makes all of his no, no, no, no, YES long two's that he's been awful at all year.  Really glad for him.

It all added up to 1 ppp which was good enough for the win on a day the defense was outstanding.

Really glad Yaklich stuck with the gameplan to not double Happ even after he started on fire.  All hail, Teske.  Dude had an outstanding game.

Roy G. Biv

February 9th, 2019 at 4:37 PM ^

Matthews was able to turn the corner on that screen at the elbow time and time again.  With his  athleticism, that play could be a staple.  Plus, his handle today was as good as I remember seeing from him.  He was really confident on the dribble.  Those fadeaways . . . those are un-contestable with his length and hops.


February 9th, 2019 at 4:46 PM ^

This is a mentally tough bunch. As the target on Michigan's back continues to grow, these final regular season games are going to be grueling events. With few exception, someone always seizes the opportunity and pulls this team through.

kevin holt

February 9th, 2019 at 4:46 PM ^

The postgame posts and threads go to show what a difference winning makes; even though we won I'm still a bit surprised nobody has brought up the refs (save for Seth's cheeky comment at the bottom of the Muppets post). I dunno how I feel in hindsight but there was some definite garbage today. So glad they made Davison upset on that flop AND got him for a flagrant; honestly makes up for the rest, IMO.