Michigan coach throws punch after loss to Wisconsin

Sports

A fight breaks out on the court after the Wisconsin NCAA college basketball game against Michigan in Madison, Wis., Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Michigan coach Juwan Howard became upset after Wisconsin called a pair of timeouts in the final minute of a game the Badgers already had put out of reach.

The way Howard responded could have major ramifications on the rest of Michigan’s season.

Howard took a swing at Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft after arguing with Wisconsin coach Greg Gard during the handshake line following the Badgers’ 77-63 victory on Sunday.

During his postgame news conference, Howard said he was angry over Wisconsin’s timeout usage. Wisconsin called two timeouts in the last minute, including one with 15 seconds left when the Badgers led by 15.

“I didn’t like the timeout being called, to be totally honest,” Howard said. “I thought it was not necessary at the moment, especially being a large lead.”

After the game, Howard pointed a finger at Gard. Later on, Howard reached through a crowd to get to Krabbenhoft, and players from each side got involved in the skirmish.

“He came up to me and pulled his mask down and said ‘I’ll remember that,’ and then started tapping me in the chest,” Gard said.

Replays appeared to show that Howard no longer had a closed fist and had his hand open by the time he hit Krabbenhoft on the top of his head. Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh said he already had contacted Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren about the situation, adding that Wisconsin had staff members who were “affected and injured.”

“There’s no room, no space for conduct like that in any competition, much less a Big Ten competition,” McIntosh said. “The Big ten takes pride in sportsmanship. The Big Ten takes pride in acting with class. That didn’t happen today.”

Michigan head coach Juwan Howard speaks to the media regarding a fight that broke out on the court after an NCAA college basketball game against Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

University of Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel said in a statement:

“I am aware of and watched the end of our men’s basketball game. There is no excuse for any of our staff or student-athletes to get into a physical altercation with others regardless of instigating factors. I reached out and apologized to Chris McIntosh and President Coleman has reached out to UW Chancellor Blank to apologize for the totally unacceptable behavior.  We will review the situation more thoroughly and work with the Big Ten Conference as they determine their disciplinary actions and will determine if further disciplinary actions are warranted.”

Howard said he reacted after someone from Wisconsin put hands on him, though he didn’t specify who did it.

“I addressed with the head coach that I will remember that, because of the timeout,” Howard said. “Someone touched me, and I think it was very uncalled for, for them to touch me, as we were verbalizing and communicating with one another. That’s what escalated it.”

Wisconsin outscored Michigan 44-25 over the last 18 1/2 minutes. Steven Crowl’s 3-pointer with 16:06 remaining put the Badgers ahead for good and highlighted a 14-1 spurt.

Johnny Davis scored 25 points for No. 15 Wisconsin (21-5, 12-4), which is battling No. 5 Purdue and No. 12 Illinois for the Big Ten title.

The national player of the year candidate went on a personal 9-0 run and blocked a shot in a span of 2 minutes, 12 seconds to give the Badgers a 56-41 lead. That stretch included a spectacular drive into the lane in which Davis scored with his left hand and drew contact to set up a three-point play.

Michigan (14-11, 8-7) scored five straight points to get the margin down to 10, but Davis answered with a jumper and teammate Brad Davison followed with a 3-pointer.

Hunter Dickinson scored 21 points for Michigan, which shot just 4 of 25 from 3-point range. Eli Brook had 14 and DeVante’ Jones added 11.

Crowl scored 11 points for Wisconsin. Davison, Chucky Hepburn and Tyler Wahl added 10 each.

HONORING FINLEY

Wisconsin raised former Badgers star Michael Finley’s No. 24 jersey to the rafters during a halftime ceremony. Wisconsin’s pep band wore white No. 24 T-shirts throughout the game.

Finley joins Ab Nicholas (No. 8) and Frank Kaminsky (No. 44) as the only Wisconsin players to have their jerseys in the rafters. Those three numbers are still able to be worn by current and future Badgers.

“It wasn’t something that I came to the university as a goal,” Finley said before the game. “My main focus was to win as many basketball games as I could, put the Wisconsin basketball program on the map, and whatever happened after that, happened.”

Finley, the first Badger to score 2,000 career points, played for Wisconsin from 1991-95 and led the 1994 team to the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in 47 years. He played in the NBA from 1995-2010, won a title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2007 and earned two All-Star selections.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: The Wolverines squandered an opportunity to boost their NCAA Tournament credentials and heard the Wisconsin crowd chanting “NIT” in the final seconds. But the bigger issue for now is the immediate future of Howard and what discipline he could be facing.

Wisconsin: Davis is the guy who could carry the Badgers on a deep postseason run, but the performances of Crowl and Hepburn also offer cause for encouragement. Davis, Davison and Wahl were scoring 65.2% of Wisconsin’s points heading into Sunday, including 67.2% in Big Ten competition. The Badgers will need someone else to provide some offense as well.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

By following up a victory at Indiana with this home triumph over Michigan, Wisconsin should move up a few spots Monday as it tries to get back into the top 10.

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