ANN ARBOR, Mich. — “I think there are a lot of things I could have done better,” Mike Wilkinson said after his Badgers thrashed the Wolverines 72-61 Saturday afternoon. “I missed a couple open shots, I missed two free throws, there were some defensive things … You go back and learn from those and try to be better the next game.”
To hear him tell the story, Wilkinson’s 28-point, 15-board showing against Michigan was barely more than a positive step. To hear anyone else tell the same story, it was one of the most dominant performances the Big Ten has seen this season.
“It was an outstanding performance by Mike Wilkinson,” Wolverine head coach Tommy Amaker said. “I thought he was, maybe, flawless. I’m not sure if I’ve used that word before with a player, but it seemed like he was flawless in his play.”
Knocking down nine of his 11 shots from the field and converting eight of 10 chances from the charity stripe, Wilkinson wasn’t quite flawless. But he was about as close as possible.
“I’ll bet when we go to the film, there are a couple things we can help Mike with,” Badger head coach Bo Ryan said. “Flawless: I’ll never say yes. Great effort, great performance, magnificent job: yes. That’s as good as I’ve seen.”
The double-double performance is the fourth of the season for Wilkinson and his third in the past four games. The senior is averaging 18 points and 9.8 boards per game since the beginning of conference play Jan. 5.
“Mike Wilkinson has been plugging along in this league for — this is his fourth year. I’ve always said how much we appreciate him,” Ryan said. “He seems to set the tone a lot of times.”
Chambliss and Tucker struggle: Wilkinson’s performance was a lucky stroke for the Badgers, who saw two of their main scoring threats completely dominated in the meantime.
Alando Tucker — the Badgers’ leading scorer on the year — and Sharif Chambliss — the Badgers’ top threat from beyond the three-point arc — combined for eight points on exactly zero field goals against the Wolverines.
Tucker’s 0-for-9 day ranks as the worst shooting performance of his collegiate career, and the four points he scored were a season-low. He salvaged an otherwise brutal day by attacking the boards ferociously. The junior’s 11 rebounds are the second-most he has tallied on the season.
“That’s why [Tucker] was able to be on the floor — because of that number right there,” Ryan said after the game. “He still wants to play, but he is not where he needs to be on finishes, which he knows. He didn’t try to force as much in the second half; he can still contribute to the team.”
Tucker is averaging 8.6 rebounds per game in his past seven games. Along with Wilkinson’s standout play, the talented wingman’s play on the glass predicates a 310-249 rebounding advantage in that time span.
Chambliss, meanwhile, did very little to redeem his 0-for-4 day shooting. He had zero assists running the point and was thoroughly outplayed by sophomore Kammron Taylor, adding fuel to the fire for those calling for Taylor to be reinserted in the starting lineup.
Taylor scored 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting and ran the point for the majority of the afternoon. Though he turned the ball over five times (compared to a mere two assists) and missed three free throws, Taylor looked more comfortable running the UW offense and made clutch plays while the Badgers’ lead was still within stone-throwing distance for the Wolverines.
Chambliss needed just 11 points in the game to pass 1,000 for his career — a seemingly accomplishable task. But, scoring his first points with just more than two minutes left in the contest, the converted point guard didn’t even get halfway there.
Injuries of note: Skyscraping redshirt freshman Brian Butch went down with a look of anguish plastered on his face early in the second half. Ryan didn’t comment on the nature of the injury or its severity after the game, but Butch sat on the bench with ice on his left ankle for the end of the game.
Michigan’s already-depleted squad may have sustained an even more frustrating blow as Daniel Horton went down late in the game clutching his right knee. Wearing a knee brace on his left knee from a previous injury, Horton’s health is crucial if Michigan is to right its ship.
“He was holding and complaining about his other knee,” Amaker said, adding that he didn’t know the extent of the damage Horton had done.