Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Men’s Basketball: Badgers fall to Spartans for second consecutive conference defeat

Backed by swift free throw efficiency, Michigan State conquers Wisconsin, 69-65
Justin Mielke

With 4:11 to spare in the second half, Wisconsin big man Steven Crowl flipped in an up-and-under, acrobatic hook on the left block. His bucket extended the Badger advantage to five, and despite appearing stagnant at times, Greg Gard’s offensive schemes prevailed for nearly the entire contest.

To almost no surprise, though, UW’s lack of movement and dependency on both Crowl and Chucky Hepburn allowed Tom Izzo’s Spartans to capitalize on empty possessions. 

Prior to Tuesday’s match against Michigan State, Wisconsin boasted a 6-2 mark in games decided by five points or fewer. As time dwindled and the Big Ten adversaries went back-and-forth, the scene seemed familiar for Badger faithful. 


Without senior anchor Tyler Wahl, the final minutes looked slightly different for the Badgers. Here’s how the action unfolded Tuesday night.

Men’s Basketball: Badgers drop first Big Ten game of season

First Half:

On its opening possession, Wisconsin junior Max Klesmit fed Crowl on the right block. The 7-footer immediately backed down Michigan State’s Mady Sissoko, and each Badger watched as the big man took matters into his own hands. For the most part, this trend would continue until the final buzzer.

Regardless, Connor Essegian exhibited his scoring prowess early. The freshman accounted for 10 of Wisconsin’s first 16 tallies off a variety of looks, including a running floater, putback layup and a pair of three-point bombs. 

Against Illinois, Essegian mustered just five shot attempts for a total of five points. In the first half alone, the Indiana native doubled his output from this past weekend and provided a critical offensive boost without one of the team’s main playmakers. 

Gard also experimented with his rotations in the first half. Forward Chris Hodges secured his first career points as a Badger with a lefty hook in the lane, and guard Isaac Lindsey reached the hardwood within the first three minutes of regulation. Markus Ilver, the 6’8’’ sophomore from Estonia, nailed a deep three and finessed his way into the lane for a left handed hook on back-to-back possessions as well.

Men’s Basketball: Badgers fend off Gophers without Wahl, survive Minnesota’s second half surge


Even though neither group pulled away by more than six points before the break, Michigan State shot lights out from both downtown and the charity stripe. Joey Hauser, brother to Boston Celtics forward Sam Hasuer, canned all six of his team’s free throws. The green and white drilled five of eight quality looks from outside (62.5%) and snagged four more defensive rebounds than Wisconsin. By intermission, the Spartans led, 33-31. 

Second Half:

If one simply scanned the score sheet, that individual may question how Wisconsin lost this match. Sure, the Spartans outmanned the Badgers on the glass, 18-7, during the closing period and made 10 of 11 attempts from the line, but UW forced eight turnovers during the final 20 minutes of play. Wisconsin, which turned it over just once, scored over half of its second half total (18 points) off Michigan State giveaways. 

Considering UW’s success in clutch situations, this outcome could certainly startle even the most loyal Badger fan. To understand the full picture, the final four minutes of action deserve recognition.

Similar to the first half, the conference foes traded haymakers up until crunch time. After Crowl hit his miraculous hook shot with 4:11 to spare, Michigan State did not waver. Kickstarted by two free throws and a powerful layup from Malik Hall, the Spartans put together a 15-6 scoring surge to close the match.

Michigan State’s Hauser and A.J. Hoggard shined as well. With 2:20 remaining, Hauser came off a screen and cashed in from deep, re-establishing MSU’s lead, 61-59. Crowl immediately responded with an 11-footer, but Hoggard took out his do-it-yourself kit for an over-the-head layup. 

On UW’s next possession, Hepburn, known for late-game heroics, splashed a step back jumper at the top of the key to knot the score at 63 apiece. The sophomore’s clutch bucket prompted Izzo to call timeout, and with just under a minute remaining, this clash morphed into an instant classic.

Following the stoppage, Hoggard, seemingly stuck on the low block, somehow scooped in a bank shot over Crowl’s outstretched hands. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, Hepburn raced down the floor and forced an ill-advised, contested three from the right wing with 23 ticks left on the shot clock, essentially sealing the deal for Izzo’s Spartans. 

Men’s Basketball: Wisconsin defeat Terrapins in first game of Big Ten season

In the end, UW relied on isolation throughout most of the evening. With Wahl absent for his second consecutive contest, the Badger offense flowed, inside-out, through Crowl. The big man finished with 19 tallies off 9/17 from the floor, but when plays broke down, it’s safe to say the offense did not resemble traditional Badger sets. 

Hepburn finished the contest with 14 points, five dimes and a pair of swipes while his running mate, Essegian, compiled 13 tallies of five made field goals. 

For Michigan State, Hauser scored a game-high 20 points and Sissoko corralled 11 boards. A.J. Hoggard, Jaden Akins and Tyson Walker walked off the hardwood with double-digit scoring performances as well.

Looking ahead, Wisconsin ventures to Bloomington for its first taste of the highly touted Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday, Jan. 14.

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