Game Day Grades: Michigan

MADISON - Improving to 71-6 at home in Big Ten play under Head Coach Bo Ryan, Wisconsin used a gritty first-half performance and a solid-shooting second half to distance itself from Michigan, 66-50, Wednesday night. Badger Nation's Ben Voelkel and Benjamin Worgull hand out the grades.

Offense: B

Hard to get excited about Wisconsin's first half. Yes, the Badgers shot 47.8 percent, but Wisconsin was sloppy with the basketball and that disrupted the flow. UW's six first-half turnovers were more than the last two games … combined. Jon Leuer scored 11 of the team's first 12 points, so the balance and production wasn't where it needed to be. Thankfully, that changed in the second half.

The Badgers did a better job of finding balance in the second half, touched the post (scoring just 8 more points, but getting 13 more points from the free throw line in the second half) and limiting the turnovers, as UW went the first 18:45 of the second half without giving the ball away.

It's refreshing to see Keaton Nankivil start to find consistent production against teams not named Purdue. Over the last six games, Nankivil had made 60.9 percent (14-for-23) from three-point range and has emerged as a legitimate third scorer, as he has raised his average to 8.4 points per game.

Defense: B+

Wisconsin was solid defensively against the Wolverines, holding them to just 33.3 percent shooting in the decisive second half, when the Badgers outscored the Wolverines 40-22. That included a stretch of more than seven and a half minutes during which Michigan made just one field goal, a three pointer by Zack Novak.

The Wolverines turned the ball over 10 times for the game, not a huge number, especially for a young team in a hostile atmosphere.

On the downside, Michigan had success attacking the hoop with the dribble.

A couple streaks: Wisconsin has held its opponent below 70 for 33 consecutive home games. It was also the tenth time in 15 games this season UW has held its opponent below 60.

Overall: B+

The Badgers did what was expected. After a sluggish start to the game, UW picked up the pace early in the second half and pulled out a comfortable win, the way teams like Wisconsin hopes to be play against teams like Michigan. Give credit to the UW coaching staff: Michigan played more man-to-man defense than in past years and the Badgers were ready for it.

Defensively, Tim Jarmusz rewarded Ryan for selecting him as a starter. Jarmusz put in a nice shift playing his typical hard-nosed, floor-burned defense.

The Badgers will go into their first bye with confidence on both ends. That's good, because it will take more than a B+ performance to win their next game, on the road at Michigan State.

Player of the Game: Jordan Taylor. I was going to say Leuer, who scored 11 of his 17 points early to help keep UW from drowning, but his four first-half turnovers were ugly. Taylor scored, he rebounded (8), made his free throws (7-for-8) and had a good assist-to-turnover ratio (3-to-1) in 39 minutes.

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