|Michigan pushes past Wisconsin as Irvin breaks slump|
|Written by Matt Pargoff|
Just a couple weeks removed from having their NCAA Tournament hopes on life support, the Wolverines took a strong step toward stating their case on Thursday evening, knocking off No. 11 Wisconsin 64-58.
Marking Michigan’s third straight win as they head into the final stretch of games, the contest also saw positive steps on the individual level, with Zak Irvin breaking his offensive slump from the last several games.
“These past couple weeks, I’ve been encouraged by teammates and coaches whenever I have a miss,” Irvin noted. “To start off with an air ball the way I did, I had my head down a little bit, but Coach Beilein and the guys right there said ‘keep shooting, keep shooting,’ and it was falling late for me.”
In an odd twist, it was an overly strong shot that seemed to shake the senior from his funk. Banking in a three pointer almost midway through the second half, Irvin caught fire late, ultimately finishing with an 18 point outing.
Michigan took the lead for the first time in more than 20 minutes of play just moments after Irvin’s basket, ultimately pulling ahead for the victory.
“Wisconsin came out of the halftime with precision and we did not,” said Michigan head coach John Beilein. “I thought it was going to cost us, but we got a good old fashioned luck bank shot from Zak at the shot clock that really changed his world a little bit from what he’s been going through the last couple weeks. It changed us, as well as a four-pointer from Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman].”
“It was a great effort by our kids finding a way to win without a lot of things necessarily working well.”
In addition to Irvin’s play, the Wolverines were led offensively by Moritz Wagner, who scored 21 points, and Abdur-Rahkman, who had 12.
Wisconsin played the game without guard Bronson Koenig, but got an 18-point first half effort out of big man Ethan Happ. The Wolverines adjusted defensively though in the second half with more double-team pressure, holding Happ to just four points the rest of the way.
Improving to 17-9 on the season, Michigan will travel to Minnesota next, taking on the Golden Gophers on Sunday at 7 p.m. eastern time with television coverage provided by Big Ten Network.
Check out post-game video below of Beilein, Wisconsin coach Greg Gard, as well as player interviews from Irvin, Abdur-Rahkman, Derrick Walton Jr. and Wagner.