Wisconsin 75, Michigan 62 Comment Count

Ace February 16th, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Caris LeVert's 25 points ultimately weren't enough [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

Oh, it should've been, could've been worse than you would ever know.
Well, you told me about nowhere well it sounds like someplace I'd like to go.

You know it's not going well when the arena staff decides Modest Mouse's "Dashboard" is an appropriate song to play during halftime. With Michigan down 34-19 to Wisconsin at the break, however, the choice proved prescient.

If not for Caris LeVert's 17 second-half points, this game never would've been close, and even the final 13-point margin doesn't capture Wisconsin's dominance. The Badgers raced out to a 14-4 lead as Michigan's familiar defensive woes reared their ugly head, dominated the boards, and pushed the gap as wide as 18 points when U-M went 5:05 without hitting a field goal.

The deficit proved too much to overcome despite LeVert's best efforts. After the sophomore connected on a pair of three throws to cut Wisconsin's lead to three points with 6:16 remaining, Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky answered with a post-up finish. Kaminsky proceeded to take over, hitting his next three shots—including an and-one and a stepback three—to give the Badgers an insurmountable 65-52 edge with just over two minutes left.

Michigan couldn't find an answer all afternoon for Kaminsky, who finished with 25 points (10/14 2-pt, 1/2 3-pt) and 11 rebounds (four offensive). He attacked Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford in the post, caught them flat-footed when he got the ball on the perimeter, and capped it off with that late triple.

While the Wolverines—namely LeVert—found their shot in the second half after going just 7/22 from the field in the first, Wisconsin's major edge in rebounding and turnovers proved to be the difference.

The Badgers coughed the ball up just twice; Michigan had seven turnovers in the first half alone. In a 59-possession slog, those mistakes proved quite costly, especially with Wisconsin generating lots of second-chance opportunities. The rebounding numbers would look much worse if Bo Ryan didn't play it conservative and start sending all five players back with a comfortable lead in the second half.

Wisconsin also prevented Michigan from getting the shots they wanted, especially in the first half. U-M only attempted 16 three-pointers, couldn't get to the rim, and had to settle for a series of long two-pointers. This showed up in the numbers. Nik Stauskas scored 11 points on 13 shot equivalents, going 0/2 from beyond the arc. Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin were a combined 1/13 from the field, the only make a meaningless late three from Irvin.

While Glenn Robinson finished with ten points on ten shots and the Morgan/Horford pairing hit 3/4 FGs, the open inside looks that Michigan generated in the first matchup just weren't there. Just five of Michigan's 20 made field goals were assisted; none of those came in the first half.

Dropping a winnable game at home is a big blow to Michigan's chances of winning the Big Ten title outright, but it's far too early to count them out, especially if Michigan State trips up in one of their games (Nebraska, @Purdue) between now and Sunday's in-state battle at Crisler.

Make no mistake, though: this was a blown opportunity, and the state of the defense isn't pretty. After ceding 1.28 points per trip to Wisconsin, Michigan ranks 10th in the Big Ten in defensive efficiency, 11th in eFG% against, and 9th in both turnovers forced and defensive rebounding. If there isn't improvement between now and the postseason, there won't be much madness in March for Michigan.



February 16th, 2014 at 4:13 PM ^

LeVert going off was the only thing that kept me watching. I think a big problem here, other than a lack of post defense, is that Michigan tried for too long to cram the offense into Stauskas. The inability to get him solid looks again is a sign that someone has to fill the gap when he gets shut down. LeVert did extremely well in the second half but that was just too big of a hole to climb out of by that point.


February 16th, 2014 at 5:10 PM ^

I'm thankful we're even competitive after losing 3 starters year over year on a young team. We still have a chance for a piece of the title and hopefully everyone will grow a foot in the off season :)


February 16th, 2014 at 5:20 PM ^

Late in your recap you highlighted how Michigan wasn't able to get the easy looks and settled for long jumpers - indicating that this was part of the issue.  Yet what we all talked about from the first meeting was that Wisconsin plays the pick and roll soft and thus allows you to take those long twos.  I think the issue was that Michigan's D got carved up early with allowing so many open threes and uncontested shots from the paint (many on OReb).  During that same time, which has happened often lately, it took the offense a while to figure out what they wanted to do.  I thought Michigan shored up their 3pt defense later in the game, but it was dreadful early against a team that makes you pay.  Meanwhile I can't remember the last open three from Stauskas or dunk by GR3.  It seems that everything is a chore for Michigan on offense right now and that bodes unwell when their D is clearly struggling. 


February 16th, 2014 at 5:23 PM ^

In the first game, Michigan's two-point jumpers were happening at the free-throw line. Today, they were more likely to come with a foot on the three-point line. There's a huge difference there—not all two-point jumpers are created equal.

I agree that the offense is having issues producing quality shots for their best players and the defense could be a lot better; comparing this shot distribution to the first Wisconsin game doesn't work for me, though.


February 16th, 2014 at 5:50 PM ^

I need Morgan...Horford...Stauskas...GR3...Irvin...Walton to all drink a bottle of angry and play with a damn chip on their shoulder. Tired of watching this group waltz through games and get pushed around. I know McGary is out but we have got to bow up at some point and play a nastier brand of ball if we want to get this title. I excluded Levert and Spike because they play consistent and seem to bring it every game as far as intensity is concerned. We still control our own destiny....but Sunday will be huge.


February 16th, 2014 at 6:03 PM ^

There's an all-or-nothing quality to them that we've seen in long stretches of the big wins and at least four of the seven losses (Duke, IU, Iowa, Wisconsin).  The beginning of this game was a lot like Wednesday's OSU game, only Wisconsin hit enough shots to make their early lead particularly hard to overcome.  Michigan needs to get off to a good start against MSU.  It would be especially nice for Stauskas start hot, because the team seems to rally around his good performances in a way they don't with LeVert's. 

Final thought: Thank you, Nebraska!  


snarling wolverine

February 16th, 2014 at 8:28 PM ^

But it's true that Stauskas is a better distributor than LeVert.  When Caris is scoring, it's great, for sure, but it doesn't necessarily open things up for other players because he's not as good at finding the open man when he's double-teamed.  When Nik is on, we're especially dangerous because he has great floor vision.  


True Blue Grit

February 16th, 2014 at 6:06 PM ^

Wisconsin was playing too tough on defense for us to overcome the big halftime deficit.  Still, I give us credit for making a big run on them.  But we just couldn't make the stops when we needed them the most.  But, I can't understand why Robinson continued to stand around on defense especially when Morgan/Horford needed the help on Kaminsky.  Down the stretch when we needed stops, that was big.  Robinson needs someone to light a motiviation bomb under him to get him going on offense AND defense.  This was a game though where not having McGary really hurt us.  Our rebounding on both ends was awful.   I don't think we're going to make a long tournament run this year.  Our outside shooting is becoming too inconsistent and easy to slow down.  And without a strong inside game, we won't go far.  


February 16th, 2014 at 6:12 PM ^

If someone told you we would be ten and three with 5 to play in conference play, tied with Sparty and two clear of everyone else what would you have said? The season is long and things tend to average out over the course of a season. We still control our own destiny against a fairly manageable schedule. I was as pissed as anyone today, but with Sparty's loss we are still in great shape for a conference championship and a 2 seed


February 16th, 2014 at 6:35 PM ^

Never thought we would be here. In addition, as has been stated several times in the past, Wisconsin gets away with a more physical style in the B1G which is not our style of play. The NCAA should mean that more of those bumps will be fouls. This fits Michigan's style of play better.

not life or de…

February 16th, 2014 at 6:33 PM ^

Put Staee in our shoes and send harris and payne to the draft and rule appling out indefinitley. If they were tied for first place with 5 games left it would be nothing short of amazing. Now pull your collective heads out of your ass and enjoy the ride Michigan fans


February 16th, 2014 at 7:48 PM ^

notlife: well said. 

We're 10-3 and in charge of our destiny...we're allowed an off game here and there. 

We saw flares of goodness in the 2nd half and we're learning...We're still looking strong for March and hopefully the stalling of stauskas may lead to him staying for another year. 


I'm ready for GR3 to go pro, but he might stay if Mcgary does. ...Thoughts?

UM Indy

February 16th, 2014 at 8:51 PM ^

Some distance to see this clunker and my buddy came from even further away. But we rationalized it thusly: Bo Ryan threatened his kids and said either they would repay us for our W in Madison or he would eat their families.


February 16th, 2014 at 11:20 PM ^

We are either not setting good screens or not running the defender to the screen or both. I'm surprised because the system requires that screens are set properly to get into the flow. Allowing the defender to slip through a pick virtually unhindered is a death nail for our offensive sets.


February 17th, 2014 at 12:00 PM ^

the game for about 5 minutes and it put me in a bad mood on a beautiful sunny Michigan winter day so I switched over to the Michigan grads competing in ice dancing in the olympics.  Actually, I believe this team will come up big when it counts...


February 17th, 2014 at 9:41 PM ^

Have to get this off my chest...  

I've been very bearish on Stauskas' defense since the beginning.  I decided to watch his defense against Wisonsin on basically every play.  And, I observed that he literally goes through the motions with no heart or agression.  

If a guy drives, Stauskas will pinch in to help but barely stick an arm out and not really try at getting the ball.  If the guy kicks it out to a shooter, his close out is so slow and it literally looks like he's checking a box rather than actually trying to prevent the guy from getting off a good shot.  Which brings me to another observation...

If a guy hits a 3 on Stauskas, he gets no closer to the shooter the next time down the floor.  If the guy hits 2 consecutive 3s, same story.

And then there's his hustle back when he or someone on Mich turns the ball over.  He literally jog / sprints at about 80% as has no intention of preventing them from scoring.

I love this team... don't get me wrong, but it drives me crazy that a little more fire and desire doesn't come out of Stauskas on D.

Needed to get that off my chest.

Go Blue and this team has been totally exceeding my expectations.  Love watching them play!