We have all heard this story before.
A Michigan Wolverines basketball lead going into halftime against a Big Ten opponent. The difference was, against the Wisconsin Badgers, Michigan managed to pull out its first victory in six games and defeated the Badgers, 72-68.
The first half swung in the Wolverines’ favor — much like Rutgers, Michigan State and Iowa — with the team outshooting Wisconsin, 53.8 percent to 46.2 percent in the first half. Through the first six minutes, Tarris Reed Jr. led Michigan with a pair of dunks, a block and a steal to keep the game tied with the Badgers.
Out of the first media timeout, Terrance Williams II made a turnaround jumper and Olivier Nkamhoua made a three-pointer to take the lead for the Wolverines, and they wouldn’t give it back for the rest of the half.
With 10:31 in the half, it was Dug McDaniel’s turn to lead the scoring charge. McDaniel connected on five shots (one three-pointer) and had 11 points through 11 minutes. Right out of the under-eight timeout, Jaelin Llewellyn connected on his first three to push the Michigan lead out to nine points and forced Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard to call a timeout.
By halftime, the Wolverine lead was cut to four, mainly led by Chucky Hepburn’s seven first-half points, but it set up another opportunity for Michigan to quiet the critics on its poor second-half play this season.
Out of halftime, Williams traveled on the first Wolverine possession and Max Klesmit made an easy layup to quiet the crowd. On the ensuing possession, Nimari Burnett made his second three-pointer of the game to push the lead to five, but Wisconsin’s Tyler Wahl scored four quick points to cut the deficit to one. That forced Juwan Howard to call an early second-half timeout.
For the next six minutes, Michigan went without a basket (0-for-7). In that time, A.J. Storr made an alley-oop dunk from Wahl to take the lead for the Badgers, 43-42, Hepburn converted on an and-one layup plus a made free throw, and Storr added to his team-high even more with another layup. Finally, at the 13-minute mark, Williams made a deep two to stop the run.
Immediately following, Nkamhoua made a jumper and a free throw to retake the lead, 49-48, and Will Tschetter drew a charge into the under-12-minute timeout. Right out of the media stoppage, Tschetter drained a three to take a four-point lead and swung the momentum back in the Wolverines’ favor.
At the under-eight timeout, Michigan reclaimed a six-point lead courtesy of an 8-0 run, and outscored Wisconsin, 14-4, since the 13:13 mark.
Out of the stoppage, the Wolverines didn’t waver. Tschetter continued to shoot the rock (and stayed hot), knocking down his second three to push the lead to nine and forcing the Badgers to call a timeout with 5:36 remaining.
Out of the timeout, Wisconsin’s Klesmit and Hepburn made three-pointers to bring the deficit to three, but Williams drained a fadeaway jumper with no time on the shot clock, stole a cross-court pass and knocked down two free throws to maintain a seven-point lead with 3:26 remaining.
No lead is safe, though, and the final two minutes got interesting. Reed clutched up two free throws and blocked a Wahl jumper, but Storr made back-to-back layups to bring his point total to 20 and closed the deficit to three with 1:22 left.
While McDaniel missed a layup with 50 seconds left, Hepburn missed on the other end of the floor as well. McDaniel had the last laugh, however, making four free throws to close out the game, and the Wolverines defeated the Badgers, 72-68.
Tschetter finished with 11 points (eight in the second half). Nkamhoua had eight points and 12 rebounds, and McDaniel scored 16 in the win.
Michigan will face the feisty Nebraska Cornhuskers on the road on Saturday.