Pick the topic and the storyline seemed to follow the Badgers' usual road ineptness.
Senior Jon Leuer made a soft jumper on the lane on the Badgers' first second-half possession, giving Wisconsin a 32-31 lead. The Badgers missed the next eight shots, including five 3-pointers, three of which came on one
possession. Through the game's first 47 minutes, only four Badgers registered buckets compared to six from Michigan. Still, the Badgers never trailed by more than five, and stayed close enough for freshman Josh Gasser to bank in the game-winning 3-pointer for a 53-53 victory Wednesday.
"We had guys that just kept grinding," said Leuer, who finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. "We worked the ball around, got good shots … but we just willed our way to this victory."
Wisconsin (21-6, 11-4 Big Ten) shot 39 percent (11 of 28) in the first half, no match for Michigan's 66 percent (12 of 18), and compounded its problems by allowing three uncontested dunks and turning only five offensive rebounds into six points.
The last time these two teams met, Wisconsin outscored Michigan 22-12 in the paint. In the first half, Michigan held a 16-8 advantage, but the Badgers buckled down defensively and closed the margin to 22-16 edge.
"Road games in the Big Ten are about grinding them out," Leuer said. "There are going to be nights where you aren't shooting well and turning the ball over. We definitely had some of those mistakes tonight, but if you rebound and play defense, you keep yourself in the game."
It's the third time this season the Badgers have allowed a team to shoot over 60 percent in the first half - Indiana 60.9 percent and Illinois 66.7 percent. Both teams shot under 43 percent in second half. Following the script, Michigan dropped 32 points in the second half (34.8 percent) and didn't make a bucket in the final 2:41.
Entering play Wednesday, Wisconsin led the nation in fewest turnovers at just 7.81 per game. Through 14 Big Ten games, UW is averaging a mere 6.7 turnovers per game (94 total turnovers), on pace to break the Big Ten record, which UW set last year at 8.1 turnovers per game.
After a sloppy first half, where UW was generously charged with only four turnovers, the Badgers committed only one turnover in the second half. Michigan committed 11 turnovers, which translated into 18 points for the Badgers.
"If you protect the ball, you get a shot every time down the court," said Jordan Taylor, who committed only one turnover. "It's better to miss shots than not even get a chance to take them. If you take a shot, you never know if it's going in. You may bank it in."
Milestone for Leuer
With his fifth rebound in the first half, senior Jon Leuer became the 19th player in school history to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds in a Wisconsin career.
"Definitely means something," Leuer said. "Numbers are something I don't pay a whole lot of attention to, but anytime you keep generating production throughout the course of your career, it's always a nice milestone to reach."