Wisconsin-Michigan St. Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 15, 2012
The last time Michigan State and Wisconsin met, the Spartans ended a long road losing streak in the series with a controversial victory. The 15th-ranked Badgers hope to return the favor Thursday night as they seek their first win in East Lansing in nearly eight years in a rematch with No. 7 Michigan State, which is coming off its biggest victory of the season. Ryan Evans appeared to hit a tying 3-pointer as the overtime buzzer sounded Jan. 3 at the Kohl Center, but officials declared the shot late after video review to give the Spartans a 63-60 victory, ending an eight-game skid in Madison. The Badgers, winners of their last four road games after a 68-61 overtime win at Minnesota last Thursday, seek their first victory at the Breslin Center since a 68-64 overtime win March 2, 2004. Jordan Taylor scored 27 points against the Gophers for Wisconsin (19-6, 8-4), which has won seven of eight and can tie the Spartans and pull within one game of first-place Ohio State in the Big Ten race. "Anytime you can win on the road against a tough opponent it's always fun," Taylor said. Coach Bo Ryan downplayed his team's recent road success and said Thursday's matchup will be just as tough as any of its previous games away from home. "Just our guys being committed to giving ourselves a chance (to win). That's the only way you can get anything done on the road," Ryan said. The Badgers have lost six straight on the road against the Spartans (20-5, 9-3), who are 15-0 at home and are coming off a 58-48 win over the then-No. 3 Buckeyes on Saturday in Columbus. Coach Tom Izzo decided to take a relaxed approach with a walkthrough rather than a full practice prior to the contest and it paid off, as Michigan State held Ohio State to 26.4 percent shooting - its best defensive effort of the season. "We're becoming more of a ball-hawking, aggressive team," Izzo said. "Draymond Green - my leader, my captain, my guy - has really bought into it. He's probably one of the more intelligent players I've ever coached." Green, who leads the team averaging 1.4 steals, had another solid performance with 12 points and nine rebounds, and Adreian Payne finished with a team-high 15 points. Green missed two free throws in the last matchup to allow the Badgers a chance to tie in overtime, but he scored 26 points in a 64-61 overtime win in the most recent meeting at the Breslin Center on Jan. 11, 2011. Izzo said if the Spartans hope to keep their home streak over Wisconsin intact, they cannot simply rely on the momentum from Saturday's win to carry over to this matchup. "What you do in one game doesn't always translate to the next game," Izzo said. "It gives you a measuring stick and gives you a point that you can grow from, but it works the other way a lot of times, too." The Spartans haven't lost on their home floor to the Badgers as a ranked team since they were No. 25 and fell 64-63 on Jan. 12, 2002.
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