Recently Wisconsin (8-3 Big Ten, 18-5 overall) has relied on its late game heroics to clinch its wins, but in Ann Arbor on Saturday the Badgers continued what they started last Tuesday against Michigan State and jumped all over the Wolverines early.
The hot shooting of No. 16 Wisconsin's three guards was more than enough to lead the Badgers' as they cruised to a 62-44 win over Michigan (11-12, 4-7). Senior Trevon Hughes and sophomore Jordan Taylor hit two 3s a piece and senior Jason Bohannon added three, including a prayer from mid court to end a blistering hot first half for Wisconsin.
The Badgers sank 9 of 13 shots from behind the arc and shot a ridiculous 68.2 percent from the field in the first half. Any time the Wolverines tried to gain momentum Wisconsin would silence the crowd with a quick response.
Coming into the game Saturday the Badgers were only allowing 56.7 points per game to their opponents, so when Wisconsin went into half already scoring 40 points, the Wolverines were in need of a miracle.
Bohannon's team-high 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting and career-high five assists highlighted the victory along with Hughes' 14 points and Taylor's 13. It was the fourth consecutive game in double figures for Taylor.
With Wisconsin up 15-14 near the 11-minute mark of the first half, a three by Taylor kicked off a more than 5-minute, game-changing 14-0 run. Taylor, Bohannon, Hughes and junior Tim Jarmusz all contributed points in the knockout span.
Unlike the game against Michigan at the Kohl Center, the Badgers held the lead almost the entire game. The Wolverines only advantage over the Badgers was junior guard Manny Harris' opening layup and as a result they were forced to play catch-up all game.
Down 14 to start the second half the Wolverines were unsuccessful at trying to get the game under 10. Only Harris with his 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting and senior DeShawn Sims' 18 on 8-of-15 had any luck against the Badgers' tough defense.
Sims has been a weapon all year for Michigan head coach John Beilein. In the two losses against the Badgers he's averaged 20.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, but the inconsistency of his teammates, and their inability to finish off opponents has been Michigan's Achilles' heel all year.
Wisconsin increased its lead to a high of 20 points after Bohannon fed a pass to sophomore Rob Wilson for an easy two. He finished with five points and three rebounds. Since Wilson's 13-point outburst against Michigan at the Kohl Center, he's been a favorite coming off the bench for head coach Bo Ryan.
The Badgers took their feet off the gas as the second half wore on, focusing on defense instead. They held Michigan to 18 points on 26.3 percent shooting and out rebounded the Wolverines 19-13.
The win pushed Ryan's record against Beilein to 7-0 and marks the 11th time this season they've held the opposing team to under 50 points, which is good for tops in the nation.
Wisconsin will be back at the Kohl Center on Tuesday taking on Illinois and has an opportunity, with a win and a Michigan State loss, to tie the Spartans on top of the Big Ten.
The game tips off at 6 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.