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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, September 24, 2023
Simpson over Happ

Wisconsin showed great fight throughout the second half over its contest with Michigan Sunday afternoon, but its first half struggled proved too great to overcome. 

Second half run comes up short as first half struggles doom Wisconsin against Michigan

For a brief stretch in Wisconsin’s (4-10 Big Ten, 11-16 overall) 83-72 loss to No. 20 Michigan (9-5, 20-7), the Kohl Center faithful rose to its feet in excitement. A 12-0 run that lasted just under five minutes midway through the second half sent an arena dying for something to cheer about into euphoria.

But by the time UW started its run and decided to claw back into the contest, it was trailing by 23 points. A valiant second-half effort temporarily raised the spirits of those on the Badgers’ bench and in the arena, but an early 15-2 deficit just minutes into the game proved too much to overcome.

Hot shooting and three UW turnovers in its first six possessions gave Michigan an early cushion. Countless stagnant possessions and missed shots around the rim allowed Michigan to comfortably cruise to a 20-6 lead with 10:57 to go in the half.

Happ led the Badgers with 11 points in the game’s first 20 minutes, but he struggled with the length and physicality of Michigan’s Moritz Wagner and Jon Teske. Wagner and Duncan Robinson scored 10 and 12 points respectively in the first half and missed only two of their combined 11 field goal attempts as Michigan doubled Wisconsin’s first-half score, leading 44-22 at the break.

The Badgers and Wolverines would trade baskets for much of the early part of the second half before the 12-0 push by UW cut UM’s lead to 11 with 8:49 to play and woke up what had been, at times, a sleepy Kohl Center crowd.

Seven times in the second half Wisconsin trailed by exactly 11 points, but just like in previous losses to Michigan State, Northwestern and Maryland, it was unable to break through.

Redshirt freshman forward Aleem Ford knocked down a triple with 2:37 to go in the game which cut Michigan’s lead to merely eight points — the first time the Badgers were within single digits since the 15:52 mark of the first half — but the Wolverines’ veteran core helped ice the game.

Happ finished the game with 29 points, but he received little help from his teammates as it wasn't until late in the second half that redshirt sophomore Brevin Pritzl and freshman guard Brad Davison broke double-figures.

Wagner scored an efficient 20 points and pulled in 11 rebounds. Robinson tacked on 16 points and the plethora of UM’s offensive options gave Wisconsin problems for the majority of the night.

With Sunday being Alumni Day, plenty of Badger greats witnessed UW’s latest defeat. Few of those acknowledged at halftime had experienced down seasons at Wisconsin.

Moments of excitement, however, have been short-lived this season, as Wisconsin’s second-half spurt was more the exception than the rule. And, by the time the Badgers tried to claw back into their eventual loss to Michigan, most of the damage had been done.

Check back later at for more coverage from UW’s latest defeat.

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