Had it not been for the return of forward Brent Petway, Michigan’s sloppy 62-53 loss against Indiana could have been worse.
The sophomore scored a team-high 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds in his first game back since suffering a shoulder injury on Jan. 8 against Fairfield.
“It felt good to get back in there, get back to playing,” Petway said. “I got hit on (the shoulder) a couple of times. (There was) a little soreness, but it went away real fast. I wasn’t (playing with) a lot of pain out there. It felt really good.”
Watching Petway throw down an inbound pass from junior guard Daniel Horton and emphatically dunk the ball on a fast break against the Hoosiers was a welcome sight for Michigan (3-1 Big Ten, 12-6 overall).
“We certainly needed some kind of lift,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “I thought he was the player he has been prior to being injured — coming back and giving us a shot in the arm with his enthusiasm, his defensive plays and his presence on the floor. I think it would have been a lot worse if we didn’t have Petway (playing).”
While the Wolverines’ forwards had trouble stopping Indiana freshman forward D.J. White in the second half, they were able to score efficiently in the paint throughout the game.
Forwards Petway, Graham Brown and Courtney Sims shot a combined 12-for-19 and totaled 26 points.
Junior forward Chris Hunter — who averaged 15.4 points and five rebounds in the seven midseason games he started — did not play against the Hoosiers. Hunter suffered a high-ankle sprain against Iowa on Jan. 5. His status is uncertain for Saturday’s game against No. 24 Wisconsin at Crisler Arena.
Badger, Badger, Badger: Michigan could be facing an even stronger presence in the paint than White this weekend. Wisconsin senior forward Mike Wilkinson was recently named Big Ten co-Player of the Week (with Illinois’s Luther Head) for averaging 20.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in Wisconsin’s past two victories over Ohio State and No. 19 Michigan State.
The Badgers (3-1, 12-3) are fresh off a 62-59 home victory over the Spartans last Sunday. Wisconsin also knocked off then-No. 12 Maryland and then-No. 22 Alabama this season — both home games. All three Wisconsin losses this season came on the road, including a 71-64 loss at Indiana on Jan. 8.
The Badgers have lost 19 of the last 20 contests at Crisler Arena and are just 2-3 on the road this year. Michigan is 10-1 at home this season.
“We have to come out Saturday and be ready to play right away,” Petway said. “Especially with it being a home game. We want to be undefeated at home throughout the (Big Ten) season.”
The Badgers’ leading scorer, forward Alando Tucker, injured his foot in practice on Jan. 9 and did not play against Ohio State on Jan. 11. Tucker — who is averaging 15.4 points per game — returned against Michigan State and notched eight points in 26 minutes.
Joining Tucker and Wilkinson up front is senior forward Zach Morley. The frontcourt trio accounts for 64.4 percent of the Badgers’ scoring, up from 45.4 percent last season.
But Amaker is more concerned with the play of his own team, especially after the Wolverines committed 20 turnovers and failed to execute in key moments against Indiana.
“Wisconsin is as good as they come in the country and certainly as good as they come in our conference,” Amaker said. “But we have a lot of work to do prior to Saturday if we think we are going to try to be a contender in this conference.”
Boo-Boo: Just a day following its upset over the Spartans, Wisconsin announced that last year’s starting point guard, Boo Wade, will leave the team because of a failure to complete requirements of a 2004 plea agreement in which he was charged with disorderly conduct. Wade was considered Wisconsin’s best perimeter defender. His absence left maligned junior guard Sharif Chambliss — averaging 9.2 points per game, more than five points under his career average (14.7) — as the sole point guard.