The overall theme for this game’s five plays is clear: Wisconsin made plays down the stretch and Michigan didn’t.
Jordan Taylor opens the second half with a three point barrage
Taylor hit three triples in the first 6 minutes of the first half and they completely changed the shape of the game. Taylor hadn’t looked for his offense much in the first half, seeming to defer to other players and be content with playing setup man, but the light went on in the second half. His first three is just a lack of effort from Morris, who doesn’t even bother to get a hand in Taylor’s face. It’s not like Taylor isn’t a three point threat, he’s shooting 39% from distance on the season. Morris is also at fault on the second three as he goes under Leuer’s ball screen and leaves Taylor open for another wide open look. On the third, you can see Douglass fight over the ball screen at the start of the possession but he just gives Taylor too much space as he buries the three with the shot clock running down.
Vogrich’s clutch shooting keeps Michigan in striking distance
Around the 10 minute mark, Michigan is down 9 and on the ropes. Having been outscored 19-8 over the first 10 minutes of the half, Michigan needs some offense and Vogrich provides it. Just two possessions later he hits another three after no one picks him up on the secondary break. Vogrich is clearly confident with his jumper as these are the type of quick automatic releases that you need to be effective. These aren’t wide open threes, they are instances where he gets his feet set and finds just enough space to pull the quick trigger.
Michigan picks up two off ball fouls on one possession netting a pair of Wisconsin free throws
These are the silly type of fouls that you just can’t commit on the road, or at all. Michigan had committed several other poor fouls early in the second half and already had five team fouls. You have to play tough physical defense but giving points away by committing fouls like this is a recipe for disaster. Wisconsin ended up with a pair of free throws at the end of this possession and, given Wisconsin’s proficiency at the stripe, that is basically just giving away free points. These are the fouls that always seem to pile up at the Kohl Center and seem to cost you at the end of games.
Novak misses a late second half three
Michigan is on a four minute field goal drought, down eight, with four minutes remaining in the game. If there is going to be a comeback, it would have to start on this possession. You know that Wisconsin is going to bleed every bit of clock when they get the ball back which means failing to score here could be the end of the game for all intents and purposes. Michigan is forced to work their offense, burning a significant amount of clock but the final shot isn’t too bad. Novak gets a reasonable three point attempt that ends up hitting the rim twice before rimming out.
Brett Valentyn hits the dagger three from the corner
Michigan was just about finished after Novak’s missed three but this shot essentially ended the game. Michigan was in a 2-3 zone, which is a scary choice versus a team that can shoot as well as Wisconsin, and the Badgers made them pay. Wisconsin is patient versus the zone and just works the ball around the perimeter until they put Novak in a situation where he has to try to guard two players. Jarmusz does a great job of making an extra pass, especially with the shot clock violation, and Brett Valentyn buries the three. When Valentyn hit the three I was left wondering who he was, the senior guard averages just 5.5 minutes and 1.5 points per game.