For most of Friday, the expected winners prevailed in the NCAA divisional tournaments going on this week. St. Louis beat Charlotte, Miami of Fla. got past Boston College, Indiana trounced Illinois, and Florida defeated LSU. Then we arrived at Michigan, ranked no.6, who was in Wisconsin to face the Badgers, ranked no. 22.
Wisconsin couldn’t seem to hit a basket in the first half. But they didn’t allow frustration to beat them.
Halftime found them losing by only three points
After the break, when Ben Brust and Co. finally found their stroke, it was all over for Michigan. Brust scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half and No. 22 Wisconsin knocked off the sixth-ranked Wolverines 68-59 in the second round of the Big Ten tournament on Friday.
“Just a great team effort,” coach Bo Ryan said. “Guys picked each other up. They didn’t get frustrated when the shots weren’t going down in the first half. We took care of that in the second half, and continued to hustle on defense.”
Traevon Jackson scored 16 points, and Ryan Evans scored 12 with 6 assists and 6 rebounds. Wisconsin will play top-seeded Indiana in the semi-finals on Saturday.
“It’s the old cliche, defense wins championships,” Evans said. “We understand that here. Anything we can do to slow those guys down and get our shots will move us forward.”
The game was expected to be hard fought. Wisconsin rallied for a 65-62 victory over Michigan on Feb. 9 when Brust hit a tying 3-pointer from just inside midcourt at the end of regulation, then hit another big 3 with 39 seconds left in overtime.
The contrasting styles of the high-scoring Wolverines and defensive-minded Badgers were on full display during an ugly first half that featured almost as many turnovers (14) as field goals (15). Although Wisconsin shot badly in the first half, Michigan couldn’t run away from them.
The Badgers bounced back, shooting 60.7 percent in the second half, compared to 46.4 percent for the Wolverines.
“I think we’ve got a really talented group of guys, and when we come together, we can beat anybody,” Jackson said.
Columnist-The Guardian Express