There was never any offensive flow against No.10 Michigan State. Only one player was in double-digits scoring with junior Ben Brust finishing up with 10 points, but the long-range specialist, like the rest of his teammates, was off from 3-point range. Brust was 2-for-7 from three and Wisconsin was 4-for-23 for a season-low 17.3 percent.
Nothing came easy with missed lay-ups or wide open shots banking off the rim. The first half, Wisconsin shot 33.3 percent (7-for-21) and did not attack the rim to get to the charity stripe. UW only got to the line four times in the first half.
During a span in the second half, the Badgers had a scoring drought of 7:27. When a drought like that comes about, coaches look for their bench to add a spark or a change in the game. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, Bo Ryan only got 11 points from his best (nine comes from Sam Dekker).In the end, Wisconsin shot a season-low 29.4 percent from the field and had more turnovers (17) than made field goals (15) and only made 9 of 15 free throws, all of which diminished any chances that were left for Wisconsin.
There were stretches in the first half of good defensive stops, but what really killed Wisconsin was the Travis Trice's three point buzzer-beater to end the half and make the Spartans' lead 25-18.
Michigan State out worked and man handled the Wisconsin frontcourt for loose balls. Keith Appling had been in a slump the last few weeks, but broke out with 19 points (14 in the second half) on 7-for-13 from the floor. In seven career games, Appling is averaging over 13 points a game against Wisconsin.
The bigs for Michigan State - Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson - combined for nine offensive rebounds, which led to the Spartans shooting 14 more shots than the Badgers throughout the game. A team known for taking charges like Wisconsin did not have one the whole night and looked drained for long stretches of the game. The home team only shot 36.9 percent from the field, but had more defensive intensity and toughness than UW.
Wisconsin looked out-of-sync from the beginning and that was the theme that carried throughout the 40 minutes. Playing for an opportunity to get a share of the conference championship, Wisconsin looked sloppy and flat footed; very Wisconsin-like in a way.
At one point in second half, the lead expanded to 23 and Wisconsin does not have the fire power to get back in games being down double digits. Bottom line: offensive rebounding with 16 boards for the Spartans and Wisconsin shooting 29.4 percent to end the game made this an impossible formula to win at the Breslin Center, a place that has given the Badgers nightmares for many road trips.
Game MVP: Sam Dekker. Dekker kept on battling on the defensive end and on offense, taking advantage of some rub screens to get looks in the lane. Dekker isn't Wisconsin's "Mr. Clutch" yet, but certainly can develop into that role over time. Wisconsin is going to need him if they expect to make another run in the Big Ten and the NCAA tournament.