MADISON – The Michigan men’s basketball team may not have won the war against No. 11 Wisconsin, but it did claim victory in the rebounding battle, and that’s something the Wolverines aren’t used to doing.

Even more surprising, Michigan had a 20-9 edge on the offensive boards.

Following a flat performance against Iowa Saturday, the Wolverines concentrated on increasing the energy level against Wisconsin.

Senior David Merritt said that focus was the reason for the team’s better play under the boards.

Sophomore Ekpe Udoh said it more bluntly.

“We just learned that we have to be tougher,” he said.

Offensive rebounds have been hard to come by for Michigan since coach John Beilein instituted his offensive system. With players spread out, even the forwards are rarely in position to collect a missed shot.

For a team with the worst field goal percentage in the Big Ten heading into last night’s contest, that’s not good news.

But with their added intensity against the Badgers, Udoh and sophomore DeShawn Sims forced their way into position on several plays and gave Michigan valuable second- and third-chance opportunities.

With less than a minute and a half remaining in the game, Udoh worked his way under the basket to tip in a missed layup.

Even though he needed a second attempt, his persistence on the glass helped pull Michigan within one point, 59-58.

The extra effort is something Beilein would like to see more of.

“I think (the energy level) comes and goes with us because we’re learning about this (offense),” Beilein said. “You can sustain more energy than you think you have. You can create energy just by making that extra play.”

‘D’-VELOPMENT?: Before last night’s game, Beilein said his biggest concern was the Wolverines’ defense. Opponents were shooting 46 percent from the floor against Michigan and 41 percent from beyond the arc.

It was no different against Wisconsin. The Badgers, who came in shooting at a 35 percent clip from long distance, shot 52 percent from 3-point range – including 60 percent in the second half.

But Beilein was still satisfied.

“I thought at times it was really good,” Beilein said. “The middle penetration is what really hurt us and we’re working on that. . But I was really impressed.”

The Wolverines’ biggest problem has been their inability to make key defensive stops. With their streaky offense, the Wolverines have had difficulty keeping pace with teams when they’re forced to trade baskets for long periods of time.

INJURY UPDATE: After clocking 11 minutes on the floor in his last two games, senior Ron Coleman dressed but didn’t play against Wisconsin. The forward is still rehabilitating his sprained ankle, working alone and with trainers to get back into playing shape.

The decision to sit out was a game-time decision. Coleman said he’ll approach each game that way until his ankle is completely healed.

“It’s getting better,” Coleman said. “We’re just trying to be cautious with it right now so I can get it healed and get back for the next game.”

Coleman sprained his ankle against Indiana on Jan. 8 and wore street clothes for Michigan’s win at Northwestern.

He’s tried to play the last two games against Illinois and Iowa, but was unable to contribute on the stat sheet.

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