Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin suffers at Breslin Center

[media-credit name=’YANA PASKOVA/Herald Photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]Gullikson-2_yp[/media-credit]EAST LANSING, Mich. — After Michigan State center Paul Davis picked up his second foul in 23 seconds — less than four minutes into the contest — the script to Thursday night's game looked to be identical to the first match between the two teams.

However, the plot turned out to be quite different, with Davis playing the hero and not the goat in the Spartans' 74-65 victory over Wisconsin.

"What can you say? It's kind of like the roles switched this game," sophomore point guard Kammron Taylor said. "He had his way."


While the Badgers were hampered by a poor shooting night from Taylor, who made only four of his 18 shots for nine points and put up at least four air balls, junior Alando Tucker (23 points) was forced once again to carry the majority of the offensive burden for Wisconsin (19-9, 9-6 Big Ten). With Taylor's sub-par performance, Davis exploded for 27 points and nine rebounds.

The triple threat of Davis, Maurice Ager and Shannon Brown combined to score 64 points for Michigan State (20-9, 8-7 Big Ten).

"I just think they feed off each other, and when one plays well, they all play well," Taylor said. "Unfortunately, it was against us."

"[Davis] had a pretty good game," Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. "But some of those big shots made later by Ager and Brown, those hurt, too."

In the Jan. 8 meeting between the two schools, Davis tallied only two points after getting in foul trouble early. This time around was a completely different story.

After Davis' first two fouls, MSU head coach Tom Izzo rolled the dice, and rather than keep Davis on the bench for an extended period of time, the senior leader returned to the floor after sitting for less than three minutes.

"He went back in and played with those fouls," Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. "He did a heck of a job in the minutes he played."

The gamble paid off, as Davis played 9:02 without picking up another foul and scoring 10 of his 12 first-half points after returning.

"His coach had trust in him, and he's been through the battles and he knows exactly what to do to not pick up that third (foul)," sophomore Brian Butch said of Davis, who ended the contest with four fouls.

Whereas Davis thrived while in foul trouble, UW floundered with its star in the same position. Tucker picked up two fouls in just 1:39, the second coming with 10:52 remaining in the half, while three Badger starters found themselves in foul trouble. Tucker and Butch both picked up two fouls early on, while junior forward Jason Chappell was called for three.

Like Davis, Tucker returned after a limited stay on the bench, but only briefly and out of necessity, coming in while freshman Joe Krabbenhoft received medical attention.

With Tucker off the floor, the Spartans took control of the game, going on a 20-6 run to go from being down 10 to up four — a margin they took into the half, leading 35-31.

"It was one of those things where we also got into foul trouble," Butch said. "It was pretty even when it came to that stuff."

After the break, Davis picked up right where he left off, scoring Michigan State's first six points of the half and pushing the Spartans to a 12-point lead at the 16-minute mark. Then the other two-thirds of the Michigan State trifecta began to heat-up, as Ager and Brown finished with 19 points and 18 points, respectively.

"As soon as you have to worry about [Davis], they start going outside, and you have to worry about Brown and Ager," Tucker said. "When [Davis] is going early, it's hard to stop their whole offense."

Wisconsin fought back, largely through Tucker, who scored 19 second-half points.

On the strength of an 11-3 run, Wisconsin cut the MSU lead to four, 51-47, with 13:02 remaining, but was unable to capitalize. For the next nine minutes, the Badgers had a bevy of opportunities to make it a one-possession game, but missed key free throws and open shots down the stretch, allowing the Spartans to put the nail in the coffin with a 12-4 run in the final five minutes.

"That's the game right there," said Ryan.

The Badgers will have very little time to regroup, as they will head to Iowa for their Big Ten finale at Carver-Hawkeye arena.

"We just kind of put this one behind and look forward to going to Iowa and playing hard," Butch said.

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