Wisconsin hoped to send three graduating players out in style, but No. 2 Michigan State was going to be a tough team to get that done against.
But, Brad Davison wouldn’t let that though test stop him, scoring a career-high 30 points. However, Michigan State countered with Cassius Winston, who hit 6 of 6 three-pointers (20 points overall) and got help from Miles Bridges (14 points) en route to a hard-fought 68-63 victory over the Badgers.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Spartans at the Kohl Center and gave them the outright Big Ten regular season championship.
Wisconsin shot just 39 percent in the first half and were out-rebounded 24-14, but UW was able to stay close thanks to its own great defensive effort late in the half. Michigan State was held without a made field goal in the last 3:35 of the half.
#Badgers are shooting 39 percent, out-rebounded 24-14, have given up 16 points in the paint and 10 second chance points.
To be down seven…I think you take that.
— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) February 25, 2018
That effort led the Badgers to be down just 34-27 at the half.
Davison tried to will the home team to a big upset, scoring 23 of his 30 points in the second half and he nearly got it done.
The freshman guard had his shoulder pop out for the fifth time on the year in the second half, but came back in to the game and scored six straight points to tie the game at 42-42 with 11:34 to play.
Michigan State answered with an old-fashioned three point play and Brevin Pritzl hit a big three-pointer to keep the score even. UW took its first lead of the game as Ethan Happ made a lay-in to go up 47-45 with 9:52 to go.
But, again, the Spartans had an answer and tied things right back up.
Nate Reuvers hit a pair of free throws to make it 49-47 UW leading with 7:18 to play, but it would be the last time the Badgers led in the game.
MSU responded to Reuvers free throws with one of Winston’s six made three pointers (the rest of the Spartans were 2 of 14 from beyond the arc). That started a 9-2 run that gave the visitors a 58-51 lead with 4:45 to play.
As much as the Badgers tried to claw their way back, that run was enough for the embattled Spartans to pick up the win.
Wisconsin never got closer than a 2-point deficit in the final five minutes of the game, as MSU responded to every attempt to come back with big buckets of their own, proving why they are one of the strongest teams in college basketball this season.
The season isn’t over yet though, as the Big Ten tournament makes its first-ever appearance at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City this week.
Wisconsin came in to the game locked in as the No. 9 seed in the Big Ten tournament. They will take on No. 8 seed Maryland to open up the action on Thursday morning, tipping off at 11am CT on BTN.