MADISON, Wisc. — Isaiah Livers scored 20 points and Hunter Dickinson had a double-double as No. 3 Michigan returned from a three-week layoff and rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat No. 21 Wisconsin 67-59 on Sunday.
Michigan (14-1, 9-1 Big Ten) scored the game’s final eight points and pulled ahead for good with 1:46 left on a tiebreaking putback from Dickinson, who had 11 points and 15 rebounds. Wisconsin (15-7, 9-6) missed its last seven shots.
The Wolverines hadn’t played since a 70-53 victory at Purdue on Jan. 22. Michigan announced the next day that it was pausing all athletic activities after several people linked to the athletic department tested positive for a COVID-19 variant that transmits at a higher rate.
D’Mitrik Trice scored 16 points, Aleem Ford had 15 and Jonathan Davis had 11 for Wisconsin.
Michigan’s rust was apparent early as Wisconsin led by as many as 14 in the first half and took a 39-27 lead into the locker room.
Wisconsin shot 53.8% overall and went 5 of 7 from 3-point range in the first half against a Michigan team that came in holding opponents to 37.4% shooting, third best in Division I. Ford led the way by scoring 11 points in the first 8 1/2 minutes.
But the Badgers shot 7 of 28 in the second half and missed their last 11 3-point attempts.
Wisconsin led 42-32 early in the second half when Brad Davison drove to the basket and his elbow hit Michigan’s Mike Smith in the face. Michigan’s bench showed its displeasure and wanted a flagrant foul called on the play — but the only call the Wolverines got was a technical foul against their bench.
Trice made one of the two ensuing free throws, but the incident seemed to fire up Michigan. Smith responded with a three-point play on the Wolverines’ next possession as Michigan began to claw its way back.
Franz Wagner sparked Michigan’s comeback by scoring 10 of his 14 points in the second half.
Michigan: The Wolverines showed their toughness by finding a way to win after struggling early. Michigan’s defense improved and Dickinson dominated the boards down the stretch.
Wisconsin: The 3-point shooting that helped Wisconsin build its early lead let the Badgers down once the game got tight. The Badgers needed more from their starting five, who combined to score 10 points and shoot 2 of 16 in the second half.
Michigan figures to stay at No. 3 when the AP Top 25 comes out Monday. Wisconsin could fall a couple of spots.
Michigan hosts No. 25 Rutgers on Thursday.
Wisconsin hosts No. 15 Iowa on Thursday.