Spartans’ blitzkreigs too much for Badgers

first_imgBadgers’ forward Jared Berggren (40) had a tough night guarding and attacking the rim against the sizable Spartans. A night after nearly achieving a double-double against Indiana, Berggren shot 1-for-7 from the field, scored six points and corraled two rebounds. Michigan State consistently produced results down low, outscoring Wisconsin 22-6 in the paint.[/media-credit]INDIANAPOLIS – It’s all about scoring runs in basketball.In the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament semifinals between Wisconsin and Michigan State, the teams traded runs twice, but the blitzes the Spartans put on produced more points and lasted longer than the Badgers. The result: a 65-52 defeat for the UW, its third loss to MSU this year.The Spartans went to defeat Ohio State in the championship game, 68-64. On Sunday, the NCAA announced the Badgers earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament and will play No. 13 Montana in Albuquerque, N.M. on Thursday. The winner of that game will face either Vanderbilt or Harvard.The Spartans went on to earn a No. 1 seed and will play Long Island University-Brooklyn on Friday.Against Michigan State, the Badgers started both halves hot but finished them cold, while the opposite was true for the Spartans. Wisconsin finished the day with a 34.7 shooting percentage as Michigan State hit half of its field goals and 66.7 percent of its 3-pointers.“Bizarre game, never felt comfortable and yet we played, obviously, well.” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. “Probably 30-some minutes [were] some of the best basketball we played.”Badgers’ guard Jordan Taylor led all scorers with 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting, while forward Ryan Evans hit 7-of-15 buckets for 18 points and five rebounds. Guard Josh Gasser and forward Mike Bruesewitz, both of whom started Saturday, went scoreless.Draymond Green, Keith Appling and Austin Thornton paced the Spartans with 14, 13 and 12 points, respectively. Thornton sparked Michigan State by going 4-for-4 from three-point range – his only shots on the day – while Appling went 3-for-5 and hit all six free throws.Green had a rough outing in the first half, turning the ball over four times and was held scoreless until 16 and a half minutes into the game, but he turned it around in the second and hit 8 of 12 free throws on the day.The Badgers opened the game by scoring the game’s first nine points and hit nine of their first 15 shots in a run that gave UW a 20-9 lead after 10 minutes.But Wisconsin hit a wall after that. Thornton hit back-to-back threes to pull within five points and propel Michigan State onto a 26-5 scoring run to close out the half. The Spartans began penetrating inside, and the Badgers simply couldn’t stop MSU’s transition offense.“He did what a leader does,” Green said of Thornton. “One of us was down. Today everybody saw what he was capable of doing when I started off the game struggling very bad. He hit a few big threes and got us back in the game.”The Spartans outscored the Badgers in the paint, 14-2, and in transition, 9-2, in the first half. By game’s end, those numbers inflated to 22-6 and 12-9.Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s offense became stuck and went the final 10:13 of the half without a field last field goal.“They just outworked us [during] that time-span they took that lead,” Taylor said. “They were doing things we weren’t … and it just got away from us.”After the break, MSU widened the gap to 46-27 before UW snapped out of its scoring drought. Taylor and Evans put together three field goals before swingman Rob Wilson made a three-pointer to pull within 10.Wilson, a day after turning heads with 30 points versus Indiana, scored six points on 2 of 5 shooting with Michigan State defenders paying extra attention to him.Green then failed to hit two free throws on the other end, and when Wisconsin brought the ball back, Wilson earned a trip to the free throw line. After hitting his first, the senior guard bricked the second, but Bruesewitz was there to corral the rebound.He kicked out to Taylor on the wing, and the senior sunk it to narrow things down to six points.But the Badgers couldn’t sustain its 13-0 run after that and, again, hit another wall. Momentum swung back in favor of the Spartans, who went on to score 11 consecutive points.With the score reading 57-40 with just over four-and-a-half minutes remaining, the pendulum never swung back.“It was a hard fought game yesterday, a hard fought game today,” Ryan said. “That 13-zip run in the second half showed me something about our guys. … I just didn’t know what we had left. Michigan State obviously had more.”last_img

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