Watching Michigan play at the Kohl Center over the last four years has been a sometimes exciting but helplessly frustrating and empty experience. The early lead is surprising and slightly encouraging but the sense of impending second half doom is inescapable. Then it happens – almost like a car crash in slow motion. A couple big shots by a talented point guard and a couple frustrating fouls – the lead is gone. Then someone you have never heard of makes a handful of plays that put the game out of reach – last year it was Rob Wilson and this year it was Brett Valentyn. When all is said and done you leave the Kohl Center with the same thing as just about every other visiting team: a loss.
David Merritt joined us after Michigan’s loss at the Kohl Center to discuss what went wrong. You can find the transcript after the jump.
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Photo: Todd S. Klassy
The last time Michigan went on the road it was November and we were wondering how the team would react to a pair of losses in Atlantic City. Michigan responded with one of their better performances of the season. Now they find themselves back on the road in one of the toughest venues in college basketball.
The game preview lives here and don’t hesitate to join in the discussion here as we follow along on the Big Ten Network. Tip off is 8:30 p.m. eastern.
Make sure to stop by after the game is over for a post game chat live with David Merritt.
|Who: Michigan (11-3) at Wisconsin(11-3)|
|Where: Kohl Center, Madison, WI|
|When: Wednesday, January 5th, 8:30 PM ET|
|Radio: MGoBlue / WWWW 102.9 FM|
Michigan’s last three games at the Kohl Center have followed an eerily similar script. A painfully slow but tantalizingly neck and neck affair that comes down to a handful of critical possessions in the final minutes. Unfortunately, a majority of those important possessions have been won by the Badgers. Those are the possessions that Wisconsin wins at home and they are the reason that the Badgers have won the last three games (64-61, 60-55, and 54-48) and they are the reason that Wisconsin rarely loses games in the cozy confines of the Kohl Center.
Sorry they are a bit late. Both Joe and Josh were at the Gator Bowl which forces me to step in and write my first Five Key plays feature. Luckily there were plenty to choose from as Michigan made a number of clutch plays down the stretch. Matt Vogrich and Zack Novak star in four of the videos although Darius Morris assisted four of the seven made baskets featured scored a fifth.
Matt Vogrich three at 14:32 in the second half
This possession was so critical because of how bad Michigan’s previous several possessions had been: a careless Hardaway turnover, a bad shot from Darius Morris, another careless turnover from Evan Smotrycz, and a missed shot by Jordan Morgan. Michigan was coming out of a timeout and had failed to capitalize on five straight missed Penn State jumpshots. The Wolverines responded with a patient possession that was clearly designed to get Vogrich a quality look. Penn State defended the first option very well, as David Jackson fought through Morgan’s screen relatively easily, but the Nittany Lions were so worried about Morgan’s roll to the basket that they left Vogrich wide open on the pick and roll as his man ducked into the post to help cover Morgan rolling to the basket.