Michigan State 83, Wisconsin 75: Balancing Act

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Six Spartans scored in double figures as Michigan State advances to the Big Ten final.

After a beatdown of Northwestern in which Michigan State looked like themselves for the first time in maybe two months, the Spartans really turned on the afterburners in the first half against Wisconsin.

1:42 into the game, it was already 7-0 and Wisconsin called timeout to stop the bleeding. A 16-1 run starting around the 10-minute mark pushed the lead up to 37-16. From there, it was mostly cruise control; Wisconsin didn't get the lead back down to single digits until just 7:45 remained in the game, and it never got closer than six (that only in the final 10 seconds). As a result, MSU gets one more game before the NCAA tournament, and it's the first-ever Big Ten tournament game against Michigan.

The four factors:

MSU shot a blistering 53.8% (7/13) from behind the arc. Both teams took care of the ball well and got to the free throw line a lot (MSU mainly at the end of the game during the inevitable trailing-team foul parade).

Player bullets:

  • Adreian Payne spent much of the game in foul trouble, playing only 17 minutes. Despite that, he led MSU in scoring with 18.
  • Keith Appling: 10 points (4/10 shooting), 6 assists, 2 steals. A solid performance. Only concern is that his free-throw shooting hasn't come back (2/5, including two bad misses late).
  • Branden Dawson: 14 points (6/8), 7 rebounds. As he did against Northwestern, he hit a couple mid-range shots.
  • Denzel Valentine: 12 points, mostly from deep (3/5 from long range); 7 rebounds and 3 assists. He and Appling were the only two to play more than 26 minutes. Like Appling, free throws were a problem (1/4).
  • Gary Harris: 12 points, 2 assists. After an awful shooting day against Wisconsin in February, he was 3/7 today and added five more from the charity stripe.
  • Travis Trice: 11 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds in 19 minutes, including late free throws (5/5 for the day) to keep Wisconsin at arm's length.
  • Kenny Kaminski: 4 points and 2 rebounds in 12 minutes.
  • Gavin Schilling and Matt Costello combined for 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 7 fouls. When everyone else is clicking, we can get away with that, but we may need a bit more from them at some point this month.
  • Alvin Ellis III put up a 4-trillion.

Next up: Michigan, at 3:30 ET tomorrow.

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