MADISON — With 27 seconds left in the first half Sunday afternoon, Chaundee Brown brought his left hand to his hip and looked up at the Kohl Center scoreboard. When a replay revealed that he had, in fact, smacked Wisconsin’s D’Mitrik Trice on the elbow, Brown dropped his shoulders and shook his head. For the first time all season, Michigan would enter halftime with a double-digit deficit. All those questions — the ones about rust and conditioning and sloppiness — had been proven right.
Then something happened. The Wolverines — facing a deficit they hadn’t experienced in a year, off of a three-week midseason break they hadn’t experienced in a lifetime — put together their best half of the season. And when it finally ended in a 67-59 win, their bench stormed onto the court, exchanging high fives and hugs in the same spot where Brown had stood dejectedly an hour earlier.
As it celebrated, Michigan carried the air of a team that doesn’t consider losing to be among its options.
“Winning a game like this on the road does a lot,” Juwan Howard said afterward. “It says a lot about the character of this group.”