Bronson Koenig scored 16 points, including a personal 10-point run in a key spot that turned the game around in the second half, and 17th ranked Wisconsin survived a scare from Michigan 68-64.
Michigan (12-7, 2-4 Big Ten) seemed to have Wisconsin (15-3, 4-1) on the ropes at one point in the second half. Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ went to the bench with his third foul early and could only watch as the Wolverines went on a 17-2 run that put them up 38-30.
The Wolverines then hit 3’s on consecutive possessions after Wisconsin tied the game at 43.
Then Koenig took over.
Zak Showalter got the run started with a tough putback before Koenig reeled off the next 10 points. He scored on Duncan Robinson with a nice reverse to tie the game, dropped a 3 from well beyond the arc and then hit another from the corner, and suddenly the Badgers were up 55-49. Nigel Hayes added a 3-pointer to cap the run.
The Badgers had to hold off one final rally from the Wolverines in the closing seconds. After Hayes missed two free throws, Zak Irvin hit a 3 to cut the lead to 66-64. But Koenig hit two free throws to put an end to the threat.
The Wolverines entered the game with a sub-.500 record in Big Ten play because of a porous defense. They were last in the nation in three-point defense (43.1%) and 313th nationally out of 347 teams in field-goal defense (46.9%).
Their defensive effort was outstanding, however, and UW shot just 37.9% in the first half. With Koenig hitting 4 of 7 shots, Showalter 3 of 3 and Trice burying his lone three-point attempt, UW shot 54.2% in the second half (13 of 24).
“We really competed right to the last seconds,” Beilein said. “Proud that that is a good step for us. In this league, if you don’t compete really, really hard you’re not going to win…
“Up six with six to go. I’ve seen that movie before. They did a great job down the stretch.”
Hayes and Vitto Brown each scored 13 points for the Badgers.
Irvin scored 20 points to lead Michigan.
Up next, the Badgers travel to Minnesota on Saturday.