ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)—Beating two ranked opponents in the same week has put Michigan in an unfamiliar place.
Dion Harris scored a season-high 23 points and Courtney Sims added 18 Saturday to help the Wolverines to an 85-76 victory over No. 23 Wisconsin and moved Michigan into a tie for first place in the Big Ten.
It was the second straight win over a ranked opponent for the Wolverines (15-3, 5-2), who beat No. 11 Michigan State on Wednesday. The Wolverines had not beaten ranked teams in consecutive games since 1994 when they upset Wisconsin and Purdue.
“This is a big turnaround from last year,” Harris said. “We didn’t even come this close last year to being in the top position of the Big Ten. We said coming into this game that we had a chance to be in first place.
“We just went out and handled our business today on the court.”
Michigan, which was 4-12 in the Big Ten last season and 13-18 overall, is off to its best start since beginning the 1992-93 season with a 15-2 record.
Michigan’s Daniel Horton, who was averaging 20.3 points in the conference, was held to 14 points on 2-for-10 shooting. He slipped on the floor and appeared to hit his head while driving the lane only 24 seconds into the game. The senior guard continued to play and made all 10 free throw attempts to improve to 38-for-38 in conference play.
“Right now it’s up to us to maintain our level of play and stay in first place,” Horton said. “Winning these two games this week gives us a lot more confidence because these are teams that people outside our program don’t expect us to beat.”
Kammron Taylor scored 29 points and Alando Tucker added 21 for the Badgers (15-5, 5-2) who have lost three of four.
Michigan took control of the game early by hitting its first five field goal attempts.
The Wolverines built their lead to as many as 13 points in the second half. Wisconsin pulled within 58-51 with 7:41 left, but Michigan scored seven of the next eight points to go back ahead by 13.
Taylor almost single-handedly rallied the Badgers. He had four of their six 3-pointers in the final 5:27 and his layup with 31 seconds left cut the deficit to 81-76.
The Wolverines sealed the win as Horton made four free throws in the final 30 seconds.
“We had the (possession) arrow. We had three timeouts,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “We had a chance down the stretch.
“Look at the stats from the second half compared to the first. I like the shots we were getting. They were all pretty good shots.”
Michigan played its second straight game without starting forward Lester Abram who is sidelined with a sprained left ankle.
With nine conference games remaining, Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said he’s trying to keep his team focused.
“It feels great,” Amaker said of being tied for first place. “But we know things like this can be short-lived. While we’re here, we’re going to try and enjoy it.”