ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep [N.H.]) came off the bench to lead all scorers with 18 points and collect six boards as the University of Michigan men's basketball team coasted to a 64-53 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday (Feb. 2). Michigan (9-10, 4-5 Big Ten) pulled within one game of .500 with the win, while the Badgers fell to 5-5 in conference play and 12-11 overall.
In addition to Robinson, Chris Young (Plymouth, Mich./Catholic Central HS)
and LaVell Blanchard (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS)
scored in double digits with 16 and 13 points, respectively. Charlie Wills paced Wisconsin with 16 points.
Starting the game with its seventh different lineup in 19 games this season, Michigan got off to a quick start and established an 18-4 lead in the game's opening four minutes. The Wolverines shot a red-hot 6-for-6 to begin the game and received excellent play from senior Herb Gibson (Taylor, Mich./Truman HS), who started for the first time in his career.
Young opened scoring with two of the first three Michigan buckets, laying the ball home on a nice inside post move for the 2-0 lead just 15 seconds into action. Mike Gotfredson (Grosse Pointe, Mich./South HS) and Leon Jones (Battle Creek, Mich./Winchendon Prep. [Mass.]) kept the Wolverines rolling with three-pointers at 17:24 and 16:23.
Gibson scored the last basket of the Wolverines' run, stealing the ball as the Badgers brought the ball across half-court. Gibson then led both teams the length of the court before finishing the play with an easy jam. With two blocks, Gibson was a key contributor to the Maize and Blue's defensive success as well.
Kirk Penney got the Badgers back on track with 10 first-half points, but Michigan kept a commanding lead at half, 37-22, on merit of its tenacious defensive effort and 12 and eight points, respectively, from Young and Robinson.
Michigan kept up its solid play in the second half. Despite getting outscored 31-27 in the second frame, the Wolverines never let the Badgers get closer than nine points, leading wire to wire for the 64-53 victory.
The Maize and Blue led by as much as 18 points, on Robinson's basket with 13:56 to play, but sealed their victory with a strong defensive effort.
With a three-point field goal at 13:23, Wills brought his team within 15 and sought to swing the momentum in the Badgers' favor, however, Gibson's defensive stop two minutes later gave the Wolverines a pick-up. Gibson leapt as Penney attempted a three-pointer from the right corner and sent the ball deep into the crowd for his third block of the night.
Robinson made sure to take care of the ball in the offensive end. With the shot clock winding down, he fired a behind-the-back pass to a streaking Young, who was fouled as he went up for the layup. His two free throws put the Wolverines ahead 53-37 at 6:46.
The Wolverines will play the second game of their three-game homestand when they host No. 12 Illinois on Thursday (Feb. 7, 7 p.m.) at Crisler Arena. Michigan looks to avenge its 94-70 loss to Illinois on Jan. 12 in Champaign, Ill.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423