Coming into Tuesday’s game against the Michigan Wolverines, the Wisconsin Badgers had not lost a game at home in over a year. But, the Wolverines gave it their best shot, but ended up coming up just short of an upset win.
The first half was a back and forth battle and the Badgers went into the halftime break only up by 5, 26-21.
The second half was just as exciting and the Wolverines were in this game until the final buzzer. Led by Zak Irvin, who scored 20 points and had 6 rebounds, the Wolverines were giving the Badgers a tough time on offense, but just couldn’t score enough down the stretch to steal a win on the road.
For the Badgers, they were in need of someone to step up and close the game, but their superstar Ethan Happ couldn’t be that guy, even more of a reason for someone else to step up and close the game at home.
The man who would step into that closer role was number 24, Bronson Koenig, who finished the game with 16 points and 4 rebounds, and had a stretch late in the game where he went on his own 10-0 run and gave the Badgers’ a 55-49 lead with 3:54 left in the game.
The 10-0 run was made up of back to back lay-ups and back to back three pointers, all four shots had the Wisconsin’ fans on their feet. As he says in this ESPN interview, the key for Koenig was staying ready for the moment and taking his shots.
Another player that was big in this game for the Wolverines was Senior guard Derrick Walton Jr.. He finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds, and a pair of assists. He looked to hurt his hip at the very end of the game in a collision with Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes, but we hope it isn’t too serious.
Speaking of Nigel Hayes, he had another good game for the Badgers. He would end the game with 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists, but he did shoot 40 percent from the free-throw line (4-10).
This loss drops the Wolverines to a record of 12-7 overall, 2-4 in Big Ten play, and marks their third loss in the last four games. They shot really well in this game, 43 percent from the field, 48 percent from the 3-point line, and 90 percent from the free-throw line. The difference was that they had 10 turnovers, two more than the Badgers, and had 21 team fouls.
This win for the Badgers extends their record to 15-3 overall, 4-1 in Big Ten, and keeps them at the top of the Big Ten conference. They are undefeated at home, have been for over a year, and have just that one loss in conference play.
Up next for the Wolverines is a home game against the Illinois Fighting Illini, who have the exact same record as the Wolverines in both overall play and conference play (12-7 and 2-4).
The Badgers will take their game on the road and face a much improved Minnesota team (15-4, 3-3). Despite winning tonight’s game, they will need to be more efficient on the offensive end and not rely so heavily on Happ for the entire game. They will need to get Koenig and Hayes involved earlier, because this Minnesota team is capable of taking them out on their home court.