The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team’s win Tuesday over the University of Michigan was far from pretty, but it said a lot about the Badger’s Big Ten title hopes as they reach a relative midway point in their conference schedule.
Despite relying on the performances of their starters, the way the Badgers won was certainly out of the ordinary and showed the versatility this team has when games are in crunch time.
Here are some key points that led to the victory and will hopefully provide clarity into some of the bigger moments of the contest:
Men’s basketball: No. 17 Wisconsin holds off fiesty Michigan 68-64Struggling teams are sometimes the toughest matchups, especially in college basketball, where anything can happen on any given night. The Read…
Offensive player of the game: Bronson Koenig
Despite one of the stronger season performances from Vitto Brown, Bronson Koenig took the title of offensive player of the game with a team-high 16 points and, more importantly, 10 straight points late in the second half to ignite the victory. The senior point guard had a relatively quiet first half, but he came up in the clutch and shot 50 percent from the floor when the team needed him to.
Defensive player of the game: Nigel Hayes
While the game itself was a defensive battle until late in the second half, UW’s Nigel Hayes flew under the radar as the matchup’s best defender. Hayes was tasked with guarding Michigan’s standout forward Moritz Wagner for much of the game. He held Wagner to 10 points and kept the Badgers in a position to make a run down the stretch. Even with his offensive struggles for much of the season, Hayes has remained a solid defender and team leader on the defensive end.
Michigan player of the game: Zak Irvin
The Michigan player of the game was undoubtedly Zak Irvin. The young guard finished with a game high 20 points and seemed almost untouchable on the offensive end until Hayes was told to guard him. Irvin finished a solid 9-16 from the floor and 2-2 from three, hitting crucial shots early in the second half to build up the nine-point Michigan lead that almost gave them the victory.
Momentum swing of the game: D’Mitrik Trice’s four-point swing
A relatively overlooked moment in the game was Wisconsin guard D’Mitrik Trice’s four-point swing with 12 minutes left in the game. It sparked a Badger scoring streak and helped them end a lengthy scoring drought. The free throw, followed up by a three-pointer in the corner, cut the Michigan lead of seven down to three and got the Wisconsin faithful on their feet — a crucial factor in the comeback win.
When you knew the game was over: Koenig’s free throws
While a nine-point Wisconsin lead late in the second half seemed insurmountable for Michigan, the game was not truly over until Bronson Koenig knocked down two clutch free throws with four seconds left. Michigan’s Irvin hit a three with six seconds to go and put the Badgers in a tough situation — up by two with the task of throwing in the ball. The free throws capped off a dominant second half for Koenig and cemented the win for Wisconsin.
The Badgers now move to the Border Battle and travel to Minneapolis to face the University of Minnesota on Saturday. The game tips at 3:30 p.m. CT and will air on BTN.