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Wisconsin holds off Michigan to reach Big Ten semifinals

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Michigan has the star-studded lineup, but Wisconsin keeps collecting the wins.

The No. 4 seed Badgers shook off poor first-half shooting to roll past the fifth-seed Wolverines in the second half for a 68-58 victory in Friday's Big Ten tournament quarterfinals at the United Center.

And how does Wisconsin do it against a Michigan team dubbed an NBA-caliber squad?

"I think it's a collective," said Badger guard Traevon Jackson, who collected a team-high 16 points. "When we play together as a team, we can beat anybody. Yeah, these (Michigan) guys are NBA guys, but we believe in ourselves as well.

"When we come together, we can beat anybody."

Ben Brust scored 14 points and Ryan Evans added 12 points as Wisconsin held off a furious Michigan comeback to claim a berth in Saturday's semifinals against top-seeded Indiana.

It was Wisconsin's second win of the season over Michigan, currently ranked sixth nationally. The Badgers beat the Wolverines 65-62 in overtime on Feb. 9 in the only regular-season meeting and have won 13 of the past 14 meetings.

Wisconsin (22-10) held a shaky 56-54 lead with 3:37 to play before sophomore Frank Kaminsky helped secure the win with a pair of jumpers in a 10-2 run into the final minute.

"Frank did a great job coming in and producing," Brust said. "He got a couple of big shots, a couple at the end of the shot clock. And he was big for us."

Trey Burke paced Michigan (26-7) with 19 points, while Tim Hardaway, Jr., had 14.

Both teams struggled offensively in the opening half and Wisconsin didn't reach double-digits until Evans hit the second of two free throws with 4:50 left.

The Badgers was just 4-for-23 from the field (17.4 percent) to that point, while Michigan was marginally better at 8-for-22 (36.3 percent) as it maintained a 16-10 lead.

Michigan led 20-17 at halftime but went more than four minutes without a field goal between Nik Stauskas' jumper with 4:35 showing and Glenn Robinson III's layup with 18 seconds left.

Jackson hit a three-pointer with four seconds left to trim the Wolverines' halftime advantage.

"The shots weren't falling for us in the first half," said Hardaway. "We were taking wide open shots and they just did a great job of staying in the game."

Wisconsin grabbed its first lead since the opening minutes when Jared Berggren's layup gave the Badgers a 26-24 lead with 16:54 showing. By the 11:33 mark Wisconsin was up 40-34 after a Mike Brueswitz 3-pointer.

"Guys picked each other up," Badger coach Bo Ryan said. "They didn't get frustrated when the shots weren't going down in the first half, and they took care of that in the second half. They (also) continued their hustle on defense"

The game suddenly turned into a sprint with teams trading baskets over the next four minutes. But the advantage remained with the Badgers, who led 52-45 after a Jackson three-pointer with 7:04 left in regulation.

A minute later, Wisconsin was bidding to put the game away as Brust capped a 12-3 run with a three-pointer for a 56-45 lead, the Badgers' biggest of the day.

But Michigan wasn't finished. The Wolverines scored nine unanswered points over a two-minute run -- including a pair of Burke layups - to slice the Badger lead to 56-54.

"We fought back and we had some chances to take the game back over and get back in front," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "We just couldn't do it."

NOTES: Wisconsin's Big Ten all-freshman pick Sam Dekker had scored in double figures in seven of his previous nine games, but was limited to two on Friday ... Brust also has had a hot hand with double figures in 10 of his last 11 games ... Wisconsin has never finished lower than fourth in conference standings in the last 12 years under Ryan, who was named Big Ten coach of the year .... Wisconsin is 16-13 all-time in the Big Ten tourney, with championships in 2004 and 2008 ... Michigan is 12-15 in all-time tourney play and is 0-2 against Wisconsin in tourney play ... Burke, the Big Ten player of the year, carried a 19.2 point average into tourney action and has scored in double figures in all 33 games ... Although ranked sixth in the nation, the Wolverines ended up with a No. 5 seed in the Big Ten tourney and were forced to play a first-round game on Thursday, beating Penn State 63-60.
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