INDIANAPOLIS – After reeling off its first win in the Big Ten tournament since 2008, Wisconsin often looked overwhelmed against top-seeded Michigan State in a 65-52 semifinals loss at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Despite an 11-0 run starting at the 15:48 mark in the second half that brought the Badgers (24-9) within six, the Spartans (26-7) answered with 11 unanswered points of their own in the final 12 minutes that sealed the game.
The Badgers struggled with their shooting all day, finishing 34.7 percent the field and 35 percent from beyond the arc.
Bo Ryan’s squad also failed to contain Michigan State guard Austin Thornton, who scored all 12 of his points from three-point range. The senior shooter – who converted three consecutive three-pointers just past the midway point in the opening 20 minutes – powered the Spartans to a 26-5 run to close out the first half.
Though Wisconsin matched Michigan State on the glass with 29 rebounds, Sparty dominated Ryan’s team in the paint with a 22-6 scoring advantage.
Thornton received help from the usual cadre of Michigan State stars, with Keith Appling finishing with a team-high 13 points and Derrick Nix and Brandon Wood each adding nine. Big Ten Player of the Year Draymond Green didn’t find his stroke in the paint until the second half but still managed 14 points and pulled down 16 rebounds, more than half of his team’s total.
It was another impressive shooting performance from the Spartans, who sunk 50 percent of their shots from the field and better than 66 percent from long distance.
Senior guard Jordan Taylor led Wisconsin with 19 points, while forward Ryan Evans finished with 18 and forward Jared Berggren dumped in six. UW’s two other starters – guard Josh Gasser and forward Mike Bruesewitz – failed to score a single point against a physical MSU defense.
The Badgers also made the most of Michigan State’s 12 turnovers, scoring 22 points off the Spartans’ mistakes.
With the loss, the Wisconsin looks forward to the first round of the NCAA tournament, which begins Wednesday.