Branden Dawson scored a career-high 18 points and matched a career-high with 13 rebounds to help lead No. 13 Michigan State to a 49-47 victory over Wisconsin on Tuesday night.
Keith Appling added 19 points for the Spartans (17-3, 6-1) who have defeated Wisconsin back-to-back at the Kohl Center for the first time since the 2000-2001 seasons.
Dawson and Appling combined for 21 of MSU’s 27 first half points, however, they trailed going into the half 28-27.
The Badgers got production from big men Mike Bruesewitz and Jarred Berggren as they combined for 16 of the Badgers 28 first half points. However, the two big men didn’t have as much success scoring the ball in the second half as Berggren was held scoreless and Bruesewitz scored three points.
Michigan State was leading 48-44 with 17 seconds left when Ryan Evans of Wisconsin nailed a three-pointer to cut the lead to one. The next possession, the Spartans were able to get the ball to freshman Gary Harris as the Badgers intentionally fouled to send him to the line for a one-and-one. Harris made the first, but missed the second, giving the Badgers the ball only leading 49-47. George Marshall of Wisconsin drove the ball to the hoop on the next possession and drew a foul with about three seconds left. Marshall missed the first, which caused him to miss the second intentionally, but he didn’t hit the rim on the second shot and the ball was awarded to Michigan State.
That series of free throws by Marshall was a perfect way to sum up the Badgers night as they went 7-of-18 (38.9 percent) from the line. If that didn’t anger the Wisconsin crowd enough, the Badgers shot an astonishing 29.6 percent (16-of-54) from the field.
Michigan State has continued to struggle getting bench production since inserting big man Adreian Payne into the starting lineup. Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine were the only bench players to attempt a shot and they combined for two points on 1-of-6 shooting. Also, as a unit, the whole MSU bench grabbed three rebounds and one assist in 37 minutes.
In the last two Big Ten games that Payne has started the MSU bench has been only able to produce seven points total.
Trice has been the only Spartan bench player outside of Payne to contribute to the scoring column all season for the most part and he has struggled shooting since entering Big Ten play. The sophomore has been shooting 31 percent (14-of-45) and hasn’t really looked like he has fully bounced back from his sickness over the summer that caused him to lose weight.
The Spartans need to find production from somewhere off the bench to provide a spark otherwise they’re going to be in trouble down the road if their starters are forced to play major minutes.
Michigan State has won their last six Big Ten games since losing to Minnesota during the opening week of Big Ten season which has earned them a first-place spot in the Big Ten standing.
The Spartans travel to Indiana on Sunday to take on the Hoosiers in a big time meeting for both schools.
Below are some interviews done by isportsweb.com’s Chris Thelen with Derrick Nix and Keith Appling after Tuesday’s win: