In Wisconsin’s first matchup with Michigan, the Badgers were down by four points with six minutes left when Bronson Koenig took over the game and ripped off a 10-point run by himself.
On Thursday night, the Badgers were without Bronson Koenig, and they weren’t able to overcome a similar deficit as Wisconsin dropped its second straight game, 64-58 in Ann Arbor.
Without Koenig, freshman D’Mitrik Trice made his first start of the year and had some mixed results. Trice was solid playing point guard, totaling four assists and five rebounds, but went just 2/15 from the field.
The Badgers badly needed their other two stars, Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ, to show up.
Happ was dominant all night, totaling 22 points, six assists, and six rebounds on 10/13 shooting. Greg Gard didn’t get enough production from the other starters, though. Hayes scored just six points on only seven shots as he wasn’t near as aggressive as they needed to him to be without Koenig’s presence. Additionally, Vitto Brown scored zero points and grabbed two rebounds in 17 minutes of play.
Wisconsin led 47-45 with under 10 minutes left in the game, but then the Wolverines went on a 9-0 run to take control 54-47. Abdur-Rahkman scored six straight including a four-point play as he got fouled in the corner by D’Mitrik Trice as he converted a three. Zak Irvin then hit a jumper at the top of the key on the next possession.
Moe Wagner put the nail in the coffin with 1:09 left with his third three of the game to put Michigan up 63-54. Wagner finished with 21 points, and he outscored his season average of 11.7 PPG in the first half with 12 points.
Michigan came into the game as the Big Ten’s third-ranked three-point shooting team. Against the Badgers, the Wolverines shot 9/23 (39%) from beyond the arc, with Irvin and Robinson hitting two apiece in addition to Wagner’s three threes.
Conversely, the Badgers missed Koenig’s perimeter offense badly. Wisconsin went just 3/15 from three.
Irvin scored 20 points in Madison during the first matchup, and again gave the Badgers fits on Thursday night. Irvin scored 18 points, grabbed five rebounds, and had three assists.
Happ totaled 18 points, three rebounds and four assists in just the first 20 minutes. Happ, and additionally Khalil Iverson’s eight first half points, helped the Badgers outscore the Wolverines in the paint 22-10 in the first half. Happ and Iverson combined for 26 points on 12/14 during the first half, with the rest of the team going 2/14.
Iverson finished with 10 points and four rebounds on 5/7 shooting. Happ and Iverson were the only two Badgers in double figures.
One bright spot for the Badgers continues to be Zak Showalter’s defense. Showalter was tasked with defending Derrick Walton Jr., Michigan’s leading scorer, and help him to five points on 1/8 from the field.
The loss in Ann Arbor makes the Badgers’ matchup against Maryland on Sunday a must-win in terms of the Big Ten race. Wisconsin, Maryland and Purdue are all 10-3 in conference play.
The Badgers face Maryland at Noon on Sunday at the Kohl Center (TV: CBS).