first_imgCHICAGO – If Friday’s Big Ten tournament quarterfinal game against ninth-seeded Michigan taught top-seeded Wisconsin anything, it’s that one slip up in March and your season’s over.Needing to win the tournament to secure an NCAA tournament berth, Michigan stormed out of the gates and kept the Badgers on the ropes for the majority of Friday’s game.But, as one could expect from the sixth-ranked team in the country, Wisconsin never wavered, responding each and every time it was threatened to advance to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.Junior forward Sam Dekker scored 17 points with six rebounds, six assists and three steals while Big Ten Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky added 16 points and 12 rebounds as the Badgers ended up with a 71-60 win over Michigan Friday at the United Center in Chicago.After Michigan’s Zak Irvin hit a three with 6:09 left in the game, the Badgers suddenly found themselves tied with the Wolverines at 54 with their hopes of a Big Ten tournament title hanging in the balance. But, as they did numerous times earlier in the game, Wisconsin responded right away with back-to-back baskets from Kaminsky inside before a kick-out pass led to a Dekker three that put UW up for good, 61-56 with 2:26 remaining in the game.Earlier in the half, Wisconsin found themselves tied at 44 before it rattled off an 11-2 run that put the score at 52-46 in favor of the Badgers. Senior forward Duje Dukan hit two clutch threes in that stretch in addition to another three from Dekker.In the first half, the Wolverines opened up a nine point lead at 22-13 before the Badgers came back with an 18-4 run to enter halftime with a 31-26 advantage. Dekker scored eight straight points early in the run before sophomore guard Bronson Koenig hit back-to-back threes just before halftime that put Wisconsin on top.It was the type of performance from an opposing team that Wisconsin can certainly expect to see for not only the rest of the Big Ten tournament, but in the NCAA tournament beginning next week. If a team holds back now, they’ll likely find themselves down in a hole fairly quickly as Wisconsin came to realize Friday against the Wolverines.“[Michigan] came out firing, and they were throwing punches early, and they were doing a better job at that than us,” Dekker said. “So we just had to counter that, and just try to withstand it and get a little run ourselves, and I thought we did a pretty good job of getting a few runs, extending the lead a little bit and then just holding them off.”But, as they did Friday afternoon in front of a pro-Wisconsin crowd at the United Center, the Badgers found a way to win and that’s all that really matters this time of year.“It’s really important; just finding a way to win,” senior guard Josh Gasser said. “Even if it’s ugly, even if it’s not what you’re used to doing, you just have to find ways to win this time of year because if you don’t, you’re done.”Dukan, who had seven points in Wisconsin’s last game against Ohio State, followed it up with another eight points Friday. The Chicago-area native was 2-for-5 from three and also grabbed two rebounds for the Badgers, hitting both of his threes to help Wisconsin on that 11-2 run toward the end of the second half.Jason Chan/The Badger Herald“Coming off the bench, obviously, there’s going to be games where I might not shoot the ball as well so I just try to contribute in other ways,” Dukan said. “But yeah, I think I’ve found [my shot] now and hopefully it’s here to stay.”Despite finishing the game with his 11th double-double of the season, Kaminsky struggled for a stretch in the second half. He missed two close shots in the paint before turning it over on two straight possessions which led to Michigan tying the game at 44. However, the seven-footer made an impact on the game that won’t show up on a box score that shows he had 16 points and 12 rebounds.Jason Chan/The Badger Herald“He’s just an all-around player,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said of Kaminsky. “He’s a gamer. He understands every little thing in a game ends up being something on this sheet or leads to something on this sheet. You never have to explain too much to him.”In addition to Kaminsky and Dekker, Koenig and sophomore forward Nigel Hayes finished in double figures with 12 and 11 points respectively. Hayes added nine rebounds while Koenig dished out two assists.Irvin scored a game-high 21 points for the Wolverines while forward Ricky Doyle had 12 points off the bench. Guard Spike Albrecht led Michigan with 10 first half points but failed to score in the second half.So,while Michigan gave Wisconsin all it could handle Friday, the Badgers are just happy to come out with their fourth straight win and their fourth consecutive trip to the Big Ten tournament semifinals.“We get to play another 40 minutes down here in Chicago in a great venue and…that’s pretty exciting,” Ryan said.last_img

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