After the COVID scare that shut down Michigan Athletics for just over two weeks, the 3rd ranked Michigan Wolverines (14-1) went on the road to take on the 21st ranked Wisconsin Badgers (15-7). Wisconsin hoped the 23-day layoff would slow down the Michigan offense, who used a 43-6 run to down Wisconsin at home the last time they faced off.
This time, the Wisconsin defense took advantage of a rusty Michigan offense, building their lead to 14 in the first half. However, solid defense, as well as improved shooting in the second half, helped Michigan climb back. Trailing by 1 with just under 3-minutes to go, Eli Brooks missed a three with one second on the shot clock. But underneath the basket was Hunter Dickinson, who collected a rebound with one hand and kicked it out to a wide-open Isaiah Livers, who drained a go-ahead three.
That rebound was one of 15 for Dickinson, who logged a double-double in the come from behind, 67-59 victory.
By the second half, the rust had seemingly worn off, as Michigan shot 41% from three for the game. Michigan outscored Wisconsin 40-20 in the second half to complete the comeback. Forward Isaiah Livers led the team scoring-wise, logging 20 points on 8-16 shooting and 4-7 from three. Speaking after the game, he said that coach Juwan Howard helped the team stay engaged when they were met with initial struggles.
“He kept telling us, hey, you are going to miss shots, shots aren’t going to fall, you are going to miss layups, free-throws, etc., you are going to miss a defensive assignment. But it is all about what you do that next play. How do you retaliate?” said Livers.
In the Big Ten, every win is critical, especially for a team poised to make up for the lost time by playing 11 games in 22 days. This road win helps keep Michigan firmly in first in the Big Ten Standings with a 9-1 conference record. The loss puts Wisconsin in fifth in the standings; they fall behind Iowa by a half a game with a 9-6 Big Ten Record.
Dickinson gets back in double-figures
After a sensational start to his freshman season, Michigan center Hunter Dickinson has become the focus of opposing defenses. Since opening with 11-straight games scoring in double-digits, three straight opponents had held the big man under 10 points.
It seemed like Wisconsin would become the fourth straight team to accomplish that feat, but Dickinson found ways late to add to his point total. A big factor in his late scoring was his rebounding on the offensive end; 5 of his 15 rebounds came on the offensive glass. He ended up with 11 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 blocks in a dominant paint performance. His teammate Isiah Livers spoke highly of the freshman after the game.
“I don’t know if I have ever seen Hunter go out of his area and rebound the way that he did today,” said Livers, “I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it right now. A freshman, doing his hook shots? Okay. His post stuff isn’t falling for him. Let’s find other ways. This dude is going from block-to-block to rebounding! He is grabbing rebounds while under the rim while being pushed out with one hand.”
Dickinson’s 15 rebounds helped Michigan outrebound Wisconsin 36 to 32, with the difference being 11 offensive rebounds for Michigan to Wisconsin’s 7. Late stops and rebounds helped push Michigan up to the 8-point victory in the end.
Michigan vs. Rutgers, Thursday, February 18, Ann Arbor, MI
Wisconsin vs. Iowa, Thursday, February 18, Madison, WI