Michigan upsets No. 11 Wisconsin

By Keith Dunlap, The Sports Xchange   |   Feb. 17, 2017 at 6:43 AM
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Zak Irvin sighting couldn't have been a more welcome sight for Michigan and its fans on Thursday.

Irvin wasn't injured or absent for Michigan, but his customary offensive contributions was missing of late.

That changed on Thursday, and at a great time against No. 11 Wisconsin.

Irvin scored in double figures for the first time in four games, finishing with 18 points to help the Wolverines greatly enhance their NCAA Tournament resume with a 64-58 win over the Badgers.

Sophomore forward Moritz Wagner led Michigan (17-9, 7-6 Big Ten) with 21 points, but seeing one of the team's senior emerge from a slump was inspiring for Michigan.

"(Irvin) made some shots and helped us out down the stretch," Michigan senior point guard Derrick Walton said. "He had a tough two-week stretch, and I'm excited for him. I am one of his biggest fans and was happy for him."

Added Michigan coach John Beilein on Irvin: "It was just what the doctor ordered for him."

The big boost for Irvin came with 12:54 remaining, when he beat the shot clock by hitting a 3-pointer that banked off the glass and in to cut Wisconsin's lead to 42-41.

"It felt great," Irvin said. "I kind of felt like when I banked in that three, a lot of pressure went off. I was so relieved after it went in, and I think it really got me going."

Later in the second half, Michigan used a 9-0 run to take a 54-47 lead with 7:15 left, with the final seven points of that run being a four-point play by junior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and a 3-pointer by Irvin.

Wisconsin pulled within 60-54 with 1:30 remaining, but a backbreaking 3-pointer by Wagner with 1:01 remaining gave Michigan a 63-54 lead and all but put the game out of reach.

Abdur-Rahkman added 12 points for Michigan, which will play four of its final five games on the road, starting Sunday at Minnesota.

The Wolverines, who entered play Thursday with an RPI of 55, will go on the road with a second win over a team with a top-30 RPI following a win earlier this season over Southern Methodist.

"It was a great effort by our kids just finding a way to win without a lot of things necessarily working well," Beilein said.

Sophomore center Ethan Happ scored 22 for Wisconsin (21-5, 10-3), but only four came after halftime when Michigan employed more double teams on him.

"We had plenty of opportunities at the rim to be able to answer or stave off that rush," Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. "But we didn't finish as consistently as we did in the first half."

With the loss, the Badgers fell into a first-place tie with Maryland and Purdue in the Big 10 standings. Maryland visits Madison for a game on Sunday.

Wisconsin played without senior guard Bronson Koenig, who sat out the game due to a calf injury. The Badgers started freshman D'Mitrik Trice in his place, the first time in 38 games Wisconsin had a different starting lineup. Trice scored nine points.

Gard said Koenig is day-to-day with the injury, but regardless of when he returns, other players on the team need to raise their games with March around the corner.

The only Wisconsin player other than Happ to score in double figures was Khalil Iverson, who finished with 10 points.

"We need more contributions," Gard said. "More guys need to step up and contribute."

Wisconsin rallied from a 21-15 deficit in the first half to take a 31-30 lead at halftime thanks largely to the dominance of Happ, who went 8 of 9 from the field and had four assists in the first half.

The Badgers looked poised to take a big lead when they started the second half on a 7-0 run to grab a 38-30 lead, but Michigan ended up taking control from that point on.

NOTES:

-- With his five rebounds, Michigan senior G Derrick Walton eclipsed 500 rebounds for his career, in the process becoming the first player in school history to record over 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists for a career.

-- Wisconsin is now 4-2 on the road in Big 10 play, not counting an overtime win over Rutgers at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 28.

-- Michigan improved to 14-3 overall and 6-2 in conference play this season at home with one more home game left. That will take place on Feb. 25 against No. 16 Purdue.

-- Wisconsin, which fell 66-59 at home to Northwestern on Sunday, lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

-- Michigan snapped a five-game losing streak to Wisconsin and won for just the third time in the last 20 meetings against the Badgers. The previous win for Michigan over Wisconsin was a 77-70 decision in Madison on Jan. 18, 2014.

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