CHICAGO (AP) — Bo Ryan simply wants No. 6 Wisconsin to focus on winning the Big Ten tournament and not its potential seeding in the NCAAs.
“I’ve always figured that if you just take care of business that people in the know will know what to do with your team,” the coach said Friday after his top-seeded Badgers beat Michigan 71-60 in the conference quarterfinals. “That’s all we can do.”
Sam Dekker scored 17 points, Frank Kaminsky added 16 points and 12 rebounds after a sluggish start, and the two players combined to score all their team’s points in a decisive 9-2 run that broke a 54-all tie late in the second half. The Badgers (29-3), who lost to Michigan State in the conference semifinals last year before mounting a run to the Final Four, will play Purdue on Saturday.
Zak Irvin led Michigan (16-16) with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Ricky Doyle scored 12 on 6-of-6 shooting and Spike Albrecht added 10 points for the Wolverines, who lost despite shooting 52 percent and committing just five turnovers. They hope to get an invitation to the NIT and a chance to finish with a winning record. They settled Friday for giving Wisconsin all it could handle.
“I think we executed our offense extremely well today and made shots when we needed to,” Albrecht said. “We just didn’t get the stops.”
The Badgers, who beat Michigan in overtime in January, closed the first half on an 18-4 run to take a five-point lead, but the Wolverines hung in until the closing minutes.
Back-to-back layups by Kaminsky with just under five minutes left put the Badgers ahead for good. The Big Ten player of the year also made a big play after Doyle scored for Michigan, diving for a loose rebound to keep the possession alive. That led to a 3 by Dekker to make it 61-56 with 3:42 left.
“He’s just an all-around player,” Ryan said, referring to Kaminsky. “He’s a gamer. He understands every little thing in the game that ends up being something on this (stat) sheet or leads to something on this sheet. You never have to explain too much to him.”
Irvin then turned the ball over. Dekker made two free throws to push the lead to seven with 2:27 left after rebounding his own missed jumper, and the Badgers hung on from there.
The way the first half ended, it looked like Wisconsin might run away with this one. Michigan, which jumped on Illinois early in Thursday’s win, was leading 22-13 with 8:11 remaining after Albrecht pulled up for a 3-pointer. But Wisconsin took over after that.
Dekker started the big run with a dunk and layup, and Bronson Koenig nailed back-to-back 3s to make it 31-26 in the closing minute, drawing big cheers from a largely pro-Badgers crowd. Kaminsky had eight points and eight rebounds in the first half. Dekker scored eight, including six during that run.
The Wolverines got 10 points each from Albrecht and Irvin, and the teams combined for just five fouls in the first 20 minutes.
“We kind of were lacking energy a little bit in the first half,” Dekker said. “They were playing harder than us, so some guys made some plays for us, stepped up, brought the energy level of us up, and saw some opportunities to attack and got some buckets going.”
Michigan: G Derrick Walton Jr. was in uniform but did not play. He has been sidelined since Jan. 24 because of a left toe/foot injury. Coach John Beilein said he is still experiencing some pain and can’t get through a full practice. “We’ve been waiting for him to come into the locker room and say ‘Coach, I’m at 100 percent,’ and he couldn’t do that.”
Wisconsin: This is the fourth time the Badgers are the No. 1 seed. … Wisconsin has won 15 of the past 17 games against Michigan. … All but five of the Badgers’ wins are by double digits. … Dekker tied career highs with six assists and three steals. … Kaminsky has 11 double doubles this season.
Michigan: Postseason to be determined.
Wisconsin: Plays Purdue in Saturday’s Big Ten tourney semifinals.
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