Devin Harris played the fewest minutes, and scored least amount of points he has had all season in Wednesday's 74-63 win over Michigan. But do not tell Wolverines' coach Tommy Amaker that Harris struggled.
"One of things about being a good guard or a good player is that if someone else is playing well that's where you go," Amaker said. "That's one of the things I recognize in a player like Devin Harris. I didn't see him force anything. He was in foul trouble and I didn't recognize him coming back in the game trying to make something happen for himself. I was really impressed late in the game. I think it was a little over two minutes to play and he had an open look on the wing but it was early in the shot clock and he dribbled it out. He's a smart player. He's a very good player. So I'm not sure that we did so many good things. I thought that they went to their strength tonight, which was a few other guys."
Harris opened the game playing with tons of energy but did appear a little flustered at times early in the contest against Michigan's tight defense. Just five minutes, 27 seconds into the game Harris took a seat on the bench and sat for a minute and a half. Just 23 seconds after re-entering he picked up his second personnel foul and sat for the remaining 12:24 of the first half.
The junior guard, who was held without a field goal in the second half of Wisconsin's 53-51 loss to Purdue one week before, went scoreless in his brief first-half playing time and first cracked the scoreboard with two free throws five minutes, 25 seconds into the second half.
Harris added a free throw and a layup late in the game, finishing with five points, breaking a streak of 17 consecutive games in double figures.
In the second half, Harris played 14 minutes, but left the game sporadically after picking up his third foul with more than 13 minutes left to play.
"Did you ever watch a guy playing with four fouls?" Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "When you get four, then you're much more tentative. So we get 30 seconds, a minute, get him out and then under three and a half, play till you get your fourth, then out, knowing that they were going to pressure there at the end. So that's why I kept subbing for him. I wanted him on the floor with three fouls with two minutes to go, not four."
As Amaker alluded to, Harris deferred to his teammates when he was in the game—he had four assists and was simply a cog in the offense on this day, as forward Mike Wilkinson, guard Clayton Hanson and forward Zach Morley combined for 47 points on 19 of 27 shooting.
Wade strong at the point
Sophomore Boo Wade had proven long before Wednesday that he could handle the point guard duties for Wisconsin. But with Devin Harris on the bench with foul trouble and senior guard Freddie Owens in street clothes with an injured left foot, Wade's ball handling was placed at an even greater premium. He finished with a career high seven assists.
"Boo did an excellent job picking up for Devin, no doubt about it," Ryan said. "But what Devin does at times when he can penetrate a gap is he draws help and he gets the ball to players who then get fouled because they're close to the basket.
"Our rule is when we drive we drop the ball to the floor. Boo's first pass hits Mike (Wilkinson) in the knee because he didn't drop it to the floor, then you saw the pass he gave Dave Mader—I mean that's a clinic—driving, dishing, dropping it to the floor, Dave picks it up two easy points. So Boo learned on the fly—don't forget our rule."