After Branden Dawson stepped in for a steal and breakaway slam dunk, it seemed that the Spartans were March-ing to the beat of their highest potential, but Wisconsin fought their way back to force an overtime in which the Badgers pitched an 11-0 shutout in a 80-69 Big Ten Tournament Final win.
The high-water mark...
Dawson's steal and dunk came with 7:43 to play, but from there and into OT, Wisconsin outscored the Spartans 34-12. The 11-point deficit tied for Wisconsin's greatest deficit of the season.
How the Spartans built their lead...
After getting sliced and diced in Madison, especially by Frank Kaminsky who scored 31 points, Coach Izzo called on Branden Dawson to bother Kaminsky as much as he could and the strategy worked during the first half as Kaminsky scored only 4 points on Dawson and 7 points in the first half.
On offense, MSU ran a patient offense which continued to get quality looks in the paint. In regulation, Michigan State shot 57% from the field. Branden Dawson scored 16 points, Matt Costello and Gavin Schilling combined for 12, Denzel Valentine added 2 field goals from in close, and Marvin Clark Jr. added a tip in lay and another lay-up on behind-the- back pass from Costello.
How the Spartans lost their lead...
With the Spartans up by 11, Wisconsin scored on five straight possessions for 12 points to regain the lead. Brad Koening hit two, three pointers, and Wisconsin worked to spread out the Spartans to limit their help defense. Wisconsin got a dunk and-the-foul from Frank Kamnsky, a Brad Koenig lay-up, and a Nigel Hayes lay-up and-the-foul. Wisconsin scored on 8 of 9 possessions over a six minute stretch after MSU had built their largest lead.
Denzel Valentine had two ugly turnovers which led directly to 5 Wisconsin points but Valentine started heating up in the second half on his way to 16 points, which helped to lessen the impact of his mistakes, but then, with MSU up by two with 20 seconds to play, instead of holding the ball after gathering in a loose ball save attempt by Wisconsin, an excited Valentine tried to force a pass downcourt and threw the ball directly to Sam Decker. Five seconds later, the Valentine turnover resulted in a Bronson Koening trip to the free throw line and Koening hit both to tie the game. Valentine then threw an errant pass out of bounds on the Spartans' second possession of overtime trying to force-find Gavin Schilling for an alley-oop attempt.
Wisconsin, they also have Nigel Hayes
With Dawson trying to blanket Frank Kaminsky, sophomore forward Nigel Hayes took advantage and racked up a game-high 25 points which included 12 trips to the free throw line where Hayes knocked down all 12 of his attempts from the charity stripe.
Bryn Forbes: Badger Slayer
With Wisconsin making an extra effort to limit Travis Trice, Bryn Forbes came off the bench and scored 10 points, shooting 3 of 4 in regulation and earning a trip to the foul line for three free throws. Forbes shot 8 of 9 from the field in the previous game against Wisconsin.
Yet Another Overtime Game for the 2014-2015 Spartans
Michigan State fell to 2-5 in overtimes for the season. With a chance to win at the end of regulation, Wisconsin smartly used their extra fouls to limit the time MSU had to operate. Michigan State still was able to get a quality shot attempt for the win as off of the inbound pass, Matt Costello moved the ball over to Branden Dawson whose shot was soft on the rim but rimmed out. In overtime, Michigan State was disrupted by the Wisconsin defense and came up empty on all 8 of their trips on the offensive end.
Quick Takeaways from the Big Ten Tournament
Michigan State played outstanding basketball for six halves of basketball during the Big Ten Tournament. Toughness and physicality led the way for the Spartans in strong wins over both Ohio State and Maryland. Michigan State played well enough to win against Wisconsin in the Final and were probably just one less mistake away from winning the Big Ten Tournament.
Branden Dawson returned from concussion-like symptoms to put together a solid, though not perfect, Big Ten Tournament. Against Ohio State, Dawson neared a triple-double. Against Maryland, Dawson put up a 16-point and 7- rebound game, and, in the Final against Wisconsin, Dawson's work on Kaminsky helped hold the possible National Player of the Year to only 19 points in 42 minutes, while Dawson also scored 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.
Matt Costello's play was mature and competent in the games against Maryland and Wisconsin, though Costello did try to force his game and made a few mistakes. Against Maryland, when MSU worked to get the ball in Costello, good things started to happen for the Spartans offense and the trend continued against Wisconsin. Costello scored 25 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished 5 assists, and blocked 5 shots in the Big Ten Tournament which included two blocks of Frank Kaminsky, one on help defense and one one-on-one on Kaminsky in the Big Ten Tournament Final.
Marvin Clark Jr.'s energy was key in the win vs. Maryland, and on the tournament, Clark Jr. scored 13 points, which included two monster dunks against Maryland, and grabbed 13 rebounds
And now on the Big Dance...
The Big Dance Tournament bracket is out and Michigan State has earned a 7-seed and an East Region, Friday match-up against Georgia in Charlotte, NC. Stay tuned to TOC for the Georgia Preview and more fun Big Dance talk.