The Wisconsin Badgers couldn’t overcome an abysmal first half and were bounced from the Big Ten Tournament in the semifinals by the Michigan State Spartans; losing 83-75.
By halftime, Bucky was down 43-26 to Sparty, while shooting only 28% from the floor. It got a little better in the second half but was equally as frustrating. Each time the Badgers seemed like they were making the game close, they couldn’t, and the Spartans would take back control.
It wasn’t just poor shooting which doomed Wisconsin though. The Badgers’ perimeter defense wasn’t up to snuff either, as Michigan State had too many open looks at the basket from beyond the ark.
Wisconsin did good not to fold after being down as much as 21 points but couldn’t complete their comeback in time.
With 8:15 left in the first half, Michigan State was shooting a red-hot 77% from the floor while the Badgers were at 23%. The heartbreaking plays came as the Spartans made three three-point plays in short amount of time; completed by Branden Dawson, Adreian Payne and Travis Trice.
The buzzer sounded on the first half as freshman Bronson Koenig missed a three-pointer; when it rains it pours. The 17 point deficit was the biggest the Badgers faced at a half all year. MSU had 10 fast-break points the Badgers’ 0 in the first half.
A CBS reporter asked Bo Ryan a question coming out of the locker room for the second half and he said,
“I’m looking for my team, have you seen them?”
That about sums it up.
His team did show up a bit more in the second half, though. Wisconsin shot 62% from the field after coming out of the locker room. At the 15:02 mark of the second half, Sam Dekker slammed home his second, of two, beautiful fast-break dunks to cut the Spartans’ lead to 10; 51-41.
But MSU’s Keith Appling stayed hot, hitting consecutive jump shots, killing the Badgers’ momentum. With 6:22 left in the game the Badgers cut the Spartans’ lead to only 8 points on a pair of Traevon Jackson free throws.
Things were looking up.
Michigan State’s top player Payne found himself on the bench with 4 fouls for awhile as the second half continued on; it was the Badgers’ chance. Kaminsky dominated the paint and it seemed as though Wisconsin had a chance to come back.
Junior Josh Gasser made an aggressive move to the basket, splitting two defenders with and completed a three-point play with 6:00 to play. The Badgers were down only 70-63 and had some momentum.
The two teams then went back and forth, the Badgers couldn’t gain on the Spartans; who were still shooting well.
At the 2:05 mark, in what seemed to be the biggest possession of the game for Wisconsin, Dekker threw up a low-percentage shot with a chance to cut Michigan State’s lead to only 5.
It didn’t go in.
From there, the Spartans pulled away and came home with the 83-75 victory. Michigan State will go on to play the Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten Tournament Championship game tomorrow at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Wisconsin dug itself too deep of a hole to crawl its way out of in this game. Lets hope they clean up that poor shooting and perimeter defense by next week when the Big Dance tips off.
Will Wisconsin be a two seed? Or will this loss drop them to a three seed?
Either way, On Wisconsin!