MADISON, Wisconsin: Michigan only needed 20 minutes or so to shake off the rust from a three-week layoff.
Isaiah Livers scored 20 points, Hunter Dickinson had 11 points and 15 rebounds, and the third-ranked Wolverines rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat No. 21 Wisconsin 67-59 on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
The Wolverines (14-1, 9-1 Big Ten) hadn’t played since a 70-53 victory at Purdue on Jan. 22. Michigan announced the next day it was pausing all athletic activities after several people linked to the athletic department tested positive for a Covid-19 variant that transmits at a higher rate.
“I was outside, I was doing jump-rope, I was doing everything necessary to stay in shape,” Livers said. “A lot of other guys were, too. We all had a program. We all stayed true to it, and obviously (you saw) the outcome. We’re getting back in our rhythm, back in that Michigan basketball rhythm.”
That was apparent down the stretch.
After trailing most of the way, Michigan scored the game’s final eight points. Wisconsin (15-7, 9-6) collected just six points and one basket over the final 7:45.
“We’re fit to play I think any kind of style – a fast-paced game, a slow-paced game, a grind-it-out game, whatever,” said Dickinson, who also had five blocks. “With our depth, I think we have the ability to do so much out there, win in so many different ways.”
Dickinson made numerous big plays with the game on the line.
Michigan trailed 57-56 when Dickinson got the offensive rebound off a missed 3-pointer from Eli Brooks and found Livers, who sank a 3-pointer with 2:48 left. D’Mitrik Trice tied the game by hitting two free throws, but Michigan pulled ahead for good on Dickinson’s putback with 1:46 remaining.
“I think the offensive rebounding, that was the backbreaker today,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “You can’t give up those types of offensive rebounds at crucial times.”