ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The offensively challenged University of Wisconsin men's basketball team hit rock bottom Sunday afternoon at Crisler Arena.
At least the Badgers hope it doesn't get any lower than this.
Sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. had 17 points and 10 rebounds as the No. 16 Wolverines ended their 10-game losing streak to UW in emphatic fashion, drilling the No. 18 Badgers 59‑41 in a Big Ten Conference game before 12,721 fans and a national television audience.
Senior guard Jordan Taylor scored a team-high 12 points, but he was the only player in double figures as UW scored its fewest points in a regular-season game in the Bo Ryan era. It was the second-fewest overall, trailing only the 33 the Badgers scored against Penn State last season in the Big Ten tournament.
"It's pretty bad," junior forward Jared Berggren said after UW shot 31.4 percent against the Wolverines. "That's not going to win a lot of games."
The Badgers (12-5, 1-3 Big Ten) made almost as many 3-pointers as they did in their last two games combined, going 7-for-20 from beyond the arc after shooting a combined 8-for-50 in back-to-back home losses to Iowa and Michigan State.
But UW was just 9-for-31 (29.0 percent) from inside the arc, including 7-for-17 (41.1 percent) in the paint. Making matters worse, the Badgers managed only five free throw attempts and missed three of them.
"It's baffling to think that we can get that many shots in the paint, wide-open jumpers," said Ryan, whose team has shot 33.3 percent during a three-game losing streak. "They're just beating themselves up mentally. We've got to get through this."
UW's starting frontcourt combined for only 15 points. Junior forward Mike Bruesewitz was active early on offense, but he finished with only five shot attempts. Berggren and junior forward Ryan Evans combined to go 4-for-15 from the floor.
"They'll grow; they'll learn," Ryan said after his team fell to 1-3 in league play for the first time in his 11 seasons with the Badgers. "Sometimes getting burned is a great lesson teacher. And you figure some things along the way, that, ‘Oh, maybe that's the reason why we do the drills that way.'
"The light's got to go on with some of these guys now that they're getting major minutes, especially in the frontcourt."
Freshman guard Trey Burke had 14 points and senior guard Zack Novak added 12 for the Wolverines (13-3, 3-1), who trailed for just 12 seconds the entire game and coasted to their first victory over UW since an 85-76 decision here on Jan. 28, 2006.
Despite shooting 30.8 percent from the field in the first half, UW trailed only 25-19 at halftime. But Hardaway scored five points during a 7-0 run to start the second half, giving Michigan a 30-19 lead with 15 minutes, 37 seconds left in the game.
The Wolverines' lead never dipped below nine points the rest of the way.
"We just wanted to stay solid, not give them open looks because they're a really good shooting team," said Michigan sophomore forward Jordan Morgan, who had a game-high 11 rebounds. "And stay in front, make them make tough shots.
"I think it was just solid team defense. Everybody was helping each other and we bought into our game plan and our principles and were able to play really good defense today."
UW's offense was particularly bad coming out of the locker room in each half. The Badgers didn't score on their first six possessions of the game, then produced another dreadful stretch just like that one to open the second half.
It's no wonder the Badgers finished with a season-low 0.77 points per possession and their fewest points in a regular-season game since a 51-39 home loss to Michigan on Feb. 27, 1999.
"We just need to do a better job of getting the ball inside and finishing around the rim, and just making shots," Taylor said. "A lot of the shots we're taking are shots we made all last year or guys made in practice. We know that. It's just a matter of stepping up and knocking them down."
It's not like things get any easier for the Badgers. Up next is a trip to Purdue, where UW has just one win since 1972.
"We've just got to make sure we pull ourselves out of it," Bruesewitz said. "We can't let this get any worse. We can't let this snowball anymore. We've got to say the buck stops here and get back to playing Wisconsin basketball and be confident and knock down shots.
"If coach Ryan thinks we're beating ourselves up, we've got to stop doing that and go out and show we can play."