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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Kilgore Trout

February 9th, 2019 at 5:03 PM ^

Fun game and great atmosphere. Couple observations.

1. Need to find a way to get Livers more minutes. Iggy getting 32 and Livers getting 16 with this matchup and Iggy struggling didn't make a lot of sense.

2. Matthews rightly gets praise for his offense, but he made Davison a non factor. I think most of what Davison got was against Simpson when Trice was on the bench.

3. Wisconsin's offense was a lot smoother with Happ on the bench. Seemed like they did a lot of standing around waiting for him to do something. Not saying they're better without him, but a lot more fluid.


February 10th, 2019 at 8:23 AM ^

Helpful, thanks. Re: observation 1: Livers may still be fragile, which could explain the minutes. At the very end he was limping to take those free throws and Beilein got Iggy up but then Livers made both shots and they could just let it play out.

Beilein is walking a fine line on Livers — to keep him sharp without aggravating the injury — it’s a blessing that the alternative to Livers is Iggy who is still learning and needs as much playing time against good competition as he can get. But at the end of close games against good teams I think we’ll see more of the five we saw yesterday — that’s Michigan’s “ending” team (as opposed to the “starting” team).


February 9th, 2019 at 5:07 PM ^

Simpson defending Reuvers in the post and absolutely dominating him has to be one of my favorite plays of the year. Reuvers didn't stand a chance.


February 9th, 2019 at 5:14 PM ^

Seems like it was just a game or two ago that a decent chunk of the MGoBlogosphere wanted to run Matthews out of town. How times change.

El Jeffe

February 9th, 2019 at 5:26 PM ^

It's almost as if most of the people who shit on players on the board don't have the slightest clue what they're talking about but yet they want to express their feels by ranting about how this or that player should be benched or this or that coach should be fired when in reality part of what makes sports is so compelling is the uncertainty of it so sometimes you have to take the failure with the success and not lose your mind too much over the efforts of 18-23 year olds who care way more about being successful than some random internet poster's fat ass.

Indy Pete - Go Blue

February 9th, 2019 at 5:40 PM ^

O Rating of 226, yes, that is acceptable!  He scored on a drive, which is the next dimension for his game.  He also hit his trusty catch-and-shoot 3.  He will be ready next year when he is expected to become a top 3 scoring option on the team.  In the meantime, he is the PERFECT 6th man for this team given his athleticism, consistent effort, and ability to guard nearly every position.


February 10th, 2019 at 12:07 PM ^

Great observation, MGoBat!  Certainly, Teske and Mathews' offense were keys to the victory.  But look at the stat line:  this game was (trumpets) won at the free throw line!  And with only nine personal fouls.  Fabulous defense, as you said. 

Anyone have a record book handy?  How many times has an opponent been shut out at the free throw line, in Crisler or anywhere?  That is a fantastic team effort.  No commentator or reporter has noticed this and it is remarkable.


February 9th, 2019 at 6:02 PM ^

Very gratifying win!! Wisconsin basketball is like that turd that just won't flush! Well Charley Matthews and Big Jon Teske made sure we flushed those cheese curds and then some!!

Also notable: The music on FOX was superb! 90s NBA throwback!! Roundball Rock forever!!

GO BLUE 22-2!!


February 9th, 2019 at 6:12 PM ^

I may only sportshate Wisconsin basketball as opposed to my thorough hatred of MSU and the cooler poopers, but man oh man does my sportshate of the Buzzcuts run strong.


February 9th, 2019 at 6:12 PM ^

Iggy has to get more consistent to unlock this offense, but right now the defense is just suffocating teams so it doesn't matter.  It'll be interesting to see how they look down this final stretch offensively.


February 9th, 2019 at 6:12 PM ^

I hope this game was Matthews turning a corner. I feel like this game is the exact play style he should be playing with on a regular basis, but doesn't. Attacking the rim, baseline jumpers, post fadeaways. I never want to see him overdribbling and hawking for a pull up jumper


February 9th, 2019 at 6:39 PM ^

He might be one of the streakiest players ever; more so than Hardaway.  Hopefully he will just Go Off at the end of the season like last year (perhaps a few weeks earlier this year).  That would be nice.

The great thing about this team is that it always seems like someone will emerge as the Lone Ranger to save the day.  It's not just one or two guys, it's any one of 5 on any given night.


February 9th, 2019 at 6:44 PM ^

I think I am ready for next year when Livers usage goes up. He had almost 15% of our points on *3* shot attempts. He is turning into Robert Horry before our very eyes. 


February 10th, 2019 at 12:45 AM ^

I might have gone with Chuck as the MVP.   He closed this game out at money time. 

Thats the type of game I am expecting to see from him in the tournament to get us to the next level.  


February 10th, 2019 at 3:28 AM ^

Ethan Happ had an 80 ORtg on 58% usage.  What a job Teske did on him, especially in the second half.  Absolutely shut Happ down, even as they kept trying to pound it in to him.  Teske scored 17 points to Happ's 18, with less than half the usage, and Happ had 5 turnovers to boot.  



February 10th, 2019 at 8:03 AM ^

Here’s one helluva stat that shows how important Matthews was in this game: He was 8-8 from inside the arc in the 2nd half. The first 7 of those came when Michigan only had a one-possession lead. His 8th was the step-back 2 that gave Michigan a 7-point lead w/ under 30 to go.


February 10th, 2019 at 9:52 AM ^

Couldn't watch yesterday so playing it now. Kind of disappointed the students weren't on davison's ass every time he touched the ball. Was expecting it I guess. The rat bastard. 


February 10th, 2019 at 10:06 AM ^

I know basketball inside out, backwards and forwards. I love the components of this roster. But I must say/admit that, at times. this team leaves me shaking my head in bewilderment. Who plays poorly and who plays well seems to rotate rather randomly...it's like "Who are these guys???"...and yesterday it was Matthews and Teske who stepped up and doggedly dragged the team to a very hard-fought win.  Despite my bewilderment, all indications are that this team's ceiling is high enough to win an NC-without it being a fluke...and their floor is high enough to keep them in serious consideration. That this team knows how to win in the face of mediocre play from (random/crucial) elements of the team is a very hopeful sign-though exasperating too. The good news remains that when this team puts it all together they can run any team off the court.


February 10th, 2019 at 10:37 AM ^

Besides Happ pciking up his third foul, I thought the pivotal play in this game occurred when Simpson fed Matthews for an easy layup instead of taking it himself. It was a simple thing, not flashy, but that really got Matthews going, and exemplified the kind of unselfishness and team play and faith in each other that will take this team very far.


February 10th, 2019 at 10:49 AM ^

Our defensive game plan against star post players is tough to watch...but it’s a good one.

1.) Early on, alllow the post to get what he can get without sending a double team and without fouling.

2.) Player either gets hot or doesn’t...either way, the offense bogs down and shooters stand around watching.

3.) With fouls intact, start getting aggressive with 10 minutes to play. Contest everything...even at the risk of picking up a foul or two. The post player now sees a look he’s not used to getting.

4.) Under five minutes left, start sending the double team. This is another look the post player is not used to.

5.) Post player either forces up bad shots because they came so easily earlier in the game, or...

6.) They kick it out to shooters who are not in rhythm, having watched a game from the perimeter all game, and said shooters see rotating help defenders flying to the line to contest shots, which they also haven’t seen all game.

The result? What happened Saturday.

Tough to watch the opponent get theirs early in these games, but it really is part of the plan. Bonus if the post player misses his early looks...but even if he doesn’t, we have a plan for that.


February 10th, 2019 at 2:24 PM ^

Tuesday nights games will be huge as all 5 top teams play with four of them playing each other. We need to take care of business in Happy Valley and see how the rest play out.