June 25, 2021

Michigan State able to hit free throws, put away cold-shooting UW at game’s end

first_imgEAST LANSING, Mich. — Throughout the first 10 minutes of Thursday night’s contest, it looked as if Wisconsin had Michigan State right where they wanted them. After Michigan State center Paul Davis registered two quick fouls in the game’s opening minutes, Wisconsin went on a 14-2 run in the six minutes Davis was on the bench to build a 23-13 lead.However, a key foul call on Alando Tucker forced Wisconsin’s leading scorer to sit on the bench with 10:21 remaining in the first half. With Wisconsin forward Jason Chappell also on the bench in foul trouble, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo elected to leave Davis in the game. The move paid off, as Davis’ aggressiveness led the Spartans on a quick 9-0 run over the next three minutes to bring Michigan State and the Spartans’ student section, aptly called the “IZZone,” back to life.”That was definitely a game-changing call because as soon as they called that, [Michigan State] went on a run when I had to sit down,” Tucker said. “We were working our plan [well] early, and they got some momentum going their way. It’s hard trying to stay with a team of this caliber when they have the fans and the momentum on their side.”Capping off an 18-8 run to end the first half, the Spartans continued driving right at Wisconsin to begin the second half. When Chappell picked up his fourth foul just 13 seconds into the half, Davis led the charge in the paint, scoring the next six Michigan State points to help push the Spartan lead to 12.Wisconsin wouldn’t quit, however, as the Badgers slowly chipped away at the Spartan lead over the next 10 minutes to put them within reach. After Tucker was fouled at the 5:07 mark, Wisconsin had an opportunity to cut the insurmountable lead to just three. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, that’s when the wheels came off.Tucker missed both free throws on the foul shot, with Michigan State recovering the rebound. The outlet pass found its way into the hands of senior Maurice Ager, who sank the jumper and was fouled by Michael Flowers. From that point on, Ager took over, scoring 12 of his 19 points in the five minutes to push the Spartan lead to 14, their biggest of the game, to put the game out of reach for Wisconsin.”That stretch right around the five-minute mark [hurt],” UW head coach Bo Ryan said. “We get a couple of free throws that don’t go in, and all kinds of things could have happened then. As a coach and as a team — you are playing on the road in a [two]-possession game — that is where you would like to keep it. We’ve been in those kinds of games before and we’ve been able to win them. Then we let it get to 14 points, and that was the ball game. They played better than we did.”Besides the Spartan scoring runs, the story of the game was the scoring spree led by Michigan State’s “Big Three” against the Badgers. Davis and Ager, along with junior Shannon Brown, scored a combined 64 points for the Spartans, with Davis leading the way with a game-high 27 points. With both big men, Chappell and Joe Krabbenhoft, missing significant time due to foul trouble, Wisconsin had trouble getting in a rhythm defensively.”The biggest problem was on the defensive end [tonight],” Tucker said. “It’s hard trying to guard those three guys. We contained Brown for most of the second half, Ager knocked down some big shots at the end and Davis was a force the entire game. We couldn’t get any stops, and when they are knocking down shots like that, they have momentum on both sides of the ball.”Unfortunately for Wisconsin, the Badgers didn’t have the same success scoring baskets, especially point guard Kammron Taylor. Taylor finished the night just 9 points on 4-18 shooting from the field and 0-5 from beyond the arc. Shooting 41 percent just three weeks ago, Taylor has shot just 27 percent since, scoring no more than 12 points in his last four games. With Wisconsin closing out the regular season in just two days at Iowa, it will be important for Taylor to stay upbeat and remain confident in his abilities.”He had a tough game, especially after starting out strong,” Tucker said. “These are the games that we’ve got a short turnaround, and he’s our point guard. We have a lot to look forward to, and we can’t let him get down. If we want to be a better team, he has to stay confident and know that we’re still behind him, good game or bad game, because these kind of games happen.”last_img

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