Men's Basketball

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COLUMBUS — When Juwan Howard wants his team to talk, he’s not shy about letting them know.

The Michigan men’s basketball team’s inability to defend the perimeter led to its eventual 81-74 loss against Wisconsin on Thursday.

When Juwan Howard was asked about Eli Brooks’s nose on Wednesday, he leaned back in his podium chair and laughed.

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There are a lot of adjectives that describe Thursday night’s matchup between Michigan and Wisconsin. 

Gritty. Streaky. Roller coaster.

Michigan coach Juwan Howard is wary of Wisconsin's offensive patience and ability to shoot the three

The Wolverines welcome Wisconsin to Crisler Center in the two teams’ one and only meeting this season. While the Badgers may lack a top-25 ranking and household name, they are currently tied for third in the Big Ten — a game ahead of Michigan in the crowded race for a double-bye in next month’s conference tournament. One of the keys to Wisconsin’s success this year has been its 3-point shooting.

Michigan coach Juwan Howard has an open-door policy for his players.

Since his start at the beginning of the season, Michigan men’s basketball head coach Juwan Howard has ushered in a cultural change in the locker room and beyond.

Spurred by his “open-door policy,” Howard has worked to foster trust between players and staff.

Freshman wing Franz Wagner and the Michigan men's basketball team have played much better defensively of late.

Where things get particularly bleak for the Wolverines’ foes though comes from 3-point shots. In The Bahamas, Michigan was effective in limiting perimeter shots with opponents shooting just 29.7 percent from three in the Caribbean. Recently though, the Wolverines have been on another planet. Along with overall scoring, opponents’ shooting percentages have taken a dip as well. Rivals in The Bahamas shot 42 percent from the floor and now are connecting on just 37.2 percent of shots over the last five games.

Freshman wing Franz Wagner has averaged 13.8 points over his last four games, helping lead Michigan to a five-game win streak.

A year ago, Wagner was a 17-year-old playing professional basketball in a country over 4,000 miles away. Then, right before making a life-altering decision, the coach he’d communicated with for years picked up and left town. Within two months, the new coach secured his commitment anyway, undoubtedly with some help from big brother. Then, right before a freshman season that could’ve vaulted him to the NBA, Wagner, bearing a reputation as a deadeye shooter, broke his shooting wrist.

Senior center Jon Teske held Purdue’s Trevion Edwards to 18 points Saturday afternoon in Michigan’s 71-63 win.

Center Jon Teske’s teammates nicknamed him Big Sleep. It’s a reflection of the seven-foot senior’s quiet demeanor off the court. But recently, he’s been relatively quiet on the court as well. Going into the Michigan men’s basketball team’s game at Purdue on Saturday, Teske averaged just over five points a game over the previous five games, shooting just 28 percent from the field. It’s a significant drop-off for someone who averaged 14 points a game over the first nine games of the season.

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Over the course of their latest five-game winning streak, the Wolverines have showcased their depth.
The usual suspects of Zavier Simpson, Isaiah Livers and Eli Brooks have all had their moments — Simpson’s four 3-pointers against Michigan State, Livers’ 17-point outing against Northwestern and Brooks’ three double-digit scoring efforts.

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In their fifth straight win, Michigan men’s basketball beat Purdue on the road, 71-63.

Spurred by junior forward Isaiah Livers’s return from an ankle injury, the Wolverine’s won on the road, marking their longest winning streak since the beginning of the season with seven straight victories.