Badgers drill Michigan

Wisconsin jumps out to 20-point halftime lead on way to 76-50 victory

MADISON – The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team did something Wednesday night it has only rarely accomplished in Big Ten play this season: It left no doubt.

The Badgers jumped all over visiting Michigan here, treating the Kohl Center's 34th consecutive sellout crowd to a 76-50 blowout win, matching Wisconsin's largest margin of victory in the conference season.

Mike Wilkinson paced four Badgers in double figures with a game-high 22 points while grabbing a game-high nine rebounds. Zach Morley added 12 points and Alando Tucker and Ray Nixon scored 10 each.

"I think it's one of the most complete performances that we've had," Tucker said.

"It was a complete game in that if you look at how we took care of the ball, we found open people," UW head coach Bo Ryan said.

With the win, Wisconsin improves to 17-6 overall and 8-4 in Big Ten play to remain in third place, while Michigan lost its ninth consecutive game, falling to 12-14, 3-9.

The Wolverines hung in the game early, but led only once, at 2-0, and trailed 16-8 after consecutive 3-pointers by Nixon and Morley at the 13:20 and 12:43 marks in the first half.

The rout was on from there. After leading just 10-8 six minutes, seven seconds into the game, the Badgers outscored UM 27-9 the rest of the first half and led 37-17 at halftime. UW topped Michigan 39-33 in the second half, leading by as many as 30 along the way.

"They are very streaky," Tucker said of the Wolverines. "At times when their bigs are scoring it opens it up for their outside players. We wanted to come in early and try to keep them low on confidence."

Wisconsin did just that and on both ends of the floor. The Badgers took advantage of Michigan's propensity for double teams and employed a strong inside-outside game, pounding the ball inside to Wilkinson and finding open 3-point shooters.

After taking just four shots for eight points against Illinois Saturday, Wilkinson scored the Badgers first six points Wednesday and had 13 at halftime. He finished 8 of 12 from the field.

"We wanted to make a statement where we still are an in-the-paint, low-post kind of team," Tucker said. "We were getting away from that the last couple of games."

Perimeter jumpers, however, punctuated the 27-9 run, including a 6 of 9 performance from beyond the arc. Morley hit his second straight and 11:11 to make it 19-8, Sharif Chambliss knocked a triple down at 3:52 to make it 25-11 and Hanson surrounded a Morley layup with triples at 2:09 and 0:59, the latter making it 35-15.

Morley scored more points in the opening period (10) than he had scored in a complete game since posting 22 at Purdue Jan. 5. Hanson's 3-pointers in the first half constituted his only points in the past three games.

"At the early stages of the game we really struggled to put the ball in the basket," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "I thought they got out of the box early, shooting the 3 ball. They really put us on our heels and it really just went downhill from there for a while."

Michigan did not exactly help its cause with scoring droughts of 6:37 and 3:22 in the first half.

The Wolverines also suffered from the loss of forward Chris Hunter, who re-injured his ankle early in the first half. Hunter returned to the court and played nine minutes in the first half, but did not return after halftime. "It definitely helped that he was out," Wilkinson said. "Any time you take a guy his size and his athletic ability out of a game it can make a difference."

For the 17,142 in attendance Wednesday the explanation points came when reserve freshman point guard Michael Flowers made a 3-pointer form the left wing with 13:34 left in the game to give UW a 55-25 lead, and when little-used freshman center Greg Stiemsma knocked down a hook shot from the left block at 12:18 to make it 57-27.

Perhaps the only time UW fans were disappointed was when Tucker chose to lay in a fast break bucket with 8:43 left, instead of dunking it.

Wisconsin took Michigan to the cleaners in every way imaginable:

  • The Badgers out-rebounded the Wolverines 39-28. That included a 15-8 edge in offensive rebounds, leading to 19 second-chance points.
  • UW had a conference-high 20 assists, compared to 10 for UM. The Badgers also had half as many turnovers as the Wolverines (14-7).
  • Wisconsin shot 48 percent and held Michigan to 37 percent.

Badgers will catch a breather

Wisconsin does not play again until traveling to East Lansing for a Feb. 24 showdown with second-place Michigan State (18-4, 9-2). The Badgers will not practice Thursday or Sunday and will close practice to the media Friday and Saturday.

"I know I've got a couple bumps and bruises here that it will be nice to get a little bit of time off," Wilkinson said. "We're still going to have practice. We're still going to come in and work hard every day we get in here. We've got to stay sharp even though we've got some time off."

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