The #1 seed Michigan State Spartans, led by seniors Austin Thornton and Draymond Green, defeated the #4 seed Wisconsin Badgers 65-52 to advance to the Big Ten Championship.
Wisconsin came out swinging, as they began the game on a 9-0 run. The early lead for the Badgers caused MSU coach Tom Izzo to call a timeout early.
Out of the timeout, Spartan junior Derrick Nix scored seven consecutive points for MSU to put the Spartans on the board, but MSU was not able to control the Badgers on the defensive end, as Jordan Taylor and Ryan Evans knocked down two consecutive jump shots to extend the lead to 14-7.
Wisconsin was leading MSU 20-9 when Austin Thornton knocked down three consecutive three-pointers for the Spartans to cut the Badger lead to two points.
In the final 10 minutes of the first-half, Michigan State went on a 26-5 run to end the half with a 35-25 lead. Thornton’s span of jumpers changed the whole momentum of the game and gave the Spartans the edge that was missing for the first 10 minutes of the ball game.
The Spartans were able to end the first-half with a comfortable lead with their team leader Draymond Green only having two points in the game.
Green was able to come out in the second-half with the same determination that his teammates displayed in the first 20 minutes.
MSU began the second-half on an 11-4 run which stretched the lead to 17 points.
After a made free throw by Draymond Green with 16:52 left in the game, Michigan State went on a scoring drought that lasted a little over four minutes. Wisconsin was able to go on a 13-0 run during that period and cut the Spartan lead to six points. Izzo was forced once again to call a timeout to get his team under control.
Coming out of the timeout Michigan State got back on track offensively, as they went on a 15-9 run.
With 1:02 left, Jordan Taylor knocked down a three-pointer for the Badgers to cut the lead to 11.
Unfortunately for the Badgers, Taylor’s three point shot was the last bucket for Wisconsin the entire game, as the Spartans were able to close out the game and move on to the Big Ten Championship.
Draymond Green finished the game with another double-double in the Big Ten Tournament, as he had 14 points and 16 rebounds.
Keith Appling had another solid performance, scoring 13 points with 5 assists to go along with that.
Wisconsin was led by senior point guard Jordan Taylor who had 19 points, and junior Ryan Evans who had 18 points. No other Badgers were in double digits.
Michigan State will face Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship in a rematch of the final regular season game of the year. OSU defeated MSU at the Breslin on the last game of the year, which gave both Ohio State and Michigan a share of the Big Ten Championship with Michigan State.
These two teams have built a strong rivalry over the past year, as the visiting team has went on the road and won both games.
Michigan State sophomore Adreian Payne has played two of his best games as a Spartan against Ohio State and the almighty Jared Sullinger. Payne struggled tonight against Wisconsin, as he continues to show his inconsistency to produce on the offensive end.
Jared Sullinger has struggled this year against Michigan State shooting about 31 percent from the field in the two game combined and averaging nearly six turnovers in the two math-ups.
Tom Izzo seems to have the solution to stopping Jared Sullinger, and hopefully for Michigan State they are able to reciprocate their stellar defense on Sullinger.
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