Team Chemistry

With five players scoring seven points or more, three second half turnovers and holding Michigan to only 20 percent shooting for the game, No.8 Wisconsin has little trouble moving to the semifinals.

INDIANAPOLIS – The last two times the Badgers were the number one seed in the Big Ten Tournament, Wisconsin's hotel reservations didn't last into the weekend.

With a balance scoring attack and an unrelenting defense, the Badgers will enjoy the rainy Indiana weather for at least one more afternoon.

Led by junior Joe Krabbenhoft's 12 points, No.8 Wisconsin made an emphasis to get the ball in to the paint and the productivity showed, out scoring the Wolverines 24 to 8 inside.

Combine that with the Badgers holding Michigan to only four second-half field goals and 20 percent shooting for the game, it's no surprise that the Badgers led from beginning to end and bested ninth-seeded Michigan, 51-34.

Although the Badgers (27-4) shot 34 percent (their lowest total since losing to Purdue February 9), the Badger advanced to Saturday's quarterfinal with a balanced team effort with five players scoring seven points or more.

The team effort has been the M.O. for Wisconsin since the beginning of October, which made senior Brian Butch's 0-for-7 shooting performance not a huge issue.

"All the guys picked up Brian Butch in that locker room," UW coach Bo Ryan said. "I am impressed the way our guys hung in there. They go to the free throw line, did some very good things defensively and picked up for one another. It was a great effort by the entire team.

Wisconsin defense, particularly the play of All-Big Ten Defensive Team member Michael Flowers, was nearly perfect, especially on freshman guard Manny Harris. During the last meeting between the two teams (January 22 in Madison), Harris went off, making 11 of 19 shots on his way to a game-high 26 points.

With Flowers getting another crack at him, Flowers did not disappoint, as Harris made only one of his 12 shots (a three-pointer in the first half) and turned the ball over three times.

Other than Michigan's Anthony Wright connecting on three of his nine three pointers, finishing with 11 points, no Wolverine (11-22) finished in double figures. Wisconsin also made up for being out rebounded in the last meeting (35 to 24) by crashing the boards and ripping down 43 rebounds.

"The scout team did a great job preparing us for this game," Flowers said. "The last time we played them at home, they out rebounded us and physically more dominant than we were. We wanted to come out here and play Wisconsin basketball and that is hard, in-your-face defense."

In retrospect, it was the Badgers runs in the first half that set the tempo for the entire day. Sparking itself to a 10-0 run, the Badgers got layups from five different players in the paint, an early warning sign for Michigan of things to come.

Although Michigan only shot 21 percent (6-for-28) in the first half and turned the ball over nine times, the Wolverines nearly clawed back to even, making it a 15-13 game when Zach Gibson (nine points) nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key.

The wake up call was just what the doctor ordered. Bohannon hit a three as the shot clock was about to expire, Flowers hit a runner in the lane from Stiemsma only to have Stiemsma nail a layup from Flowers on the next possession.

After Trevon Hughes was fouled on a three-point attempt, Wisconsin rattled off a 10-0 to extend its lead to 12 and continued to roll from there.

"It is very important to come out every game and try to build some momentum and get an early lead," Krabbenhoft said. "I thought we did a good job today and our defense, what we've relied on since the beginning of the year, took us all the way."

Although Wisconsin's stifling was superb, the Badgers have even bigger goals when they take on the winner of Michigan State-Ohio State at 12:40 p.m. tomorrow.

"We want to play even better defense than we did today," Landry said. "If we play defense the way we did today, we are capable of doing some great things. If we play even better, we'll do even better things."


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