In the heat of the battle, you could see how badly the Wisconsin players wanted this game by the way they argued their case for a simple goaltending call on a Jordan Taylor layup. But you could also see how much they had spent when Keaton Nankivil couldn't quite get the lift he needed late in the game to snag a crucial rebound.
In a game of runs, Michigan State shocked Wisconsin with the most important one Tuesday night, and then let Draymond Green take charge in overtime to beat the Badgers, 64-61.
Green scored MSU's first eight points in overtime, but four consecutive uncharacteristic possessions from Wisconsin in the two minutes of regulation boosted Michigan State into that extra session. The Badgers looked tired and discombobulated during the 9-0 Spartan run that knotted the game at 53, letting an important victory slip through their grasp in the process.
Rob Wilson's quick missed layup started the sequence and led to a Kalin Lucas free throw on the other end. With Wisconsin leading 53-48, Delvon Roe then made the play of the game when he picked Jon Leuer's pocket to get the Spartans an easy dunk with 1:17 remaining. Wilson bobbled the ensuing inbounds pass and Milwaukee native Korie Lucious sank a wide-open 3-pointer to tie the game.
As the Breslin Center rocked, Wisconsin committed a shot clock violation on its last chance of the second half when Tim Jarmusz airballed the counter punch from three-point range.
Wisconsin assistant Lamont Paris spoke earlier on the radio about this being "a man's game" where UW had to be able to punch back when Michigan State got aggressive and maybe even punch first. To their credit, the Badgers did strike first with an 11-2 run in the middle of the first half. Behind back-to-back jumpers from red-hot Nankivil, the Badgers took control a 19-7 lead. They absorbed Michigan State's response to hold a 23-20 halftime edge.
Nankivil, it should be noted, played a remarkable game. The junior scored 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting behind the arc while Jon Leuer struggled to get free. Before fouling out late, Nankivil added four rebounds, three steals and three blocks, including one on Lucas that saved the game at the end of regulation. Though his absence on the final possession made Wisconsin easier to defend, credit the Spartans for shutting him out for the final 13 minutes of the game.
To continue the boxing analogy, however, Wisconsin still had Michigan State on the ropes despite Nankivil's drought. Taylor finally got into a groove with back-to-back threes and hit two free throws to help UW maintain a nine-point lead with 2:39 left.
Green immediately answered with a 3-pointer of his own, and then the wheels fell off for Wisconsin. The Badgers finished the night with 11 turnovers.
Though Green got loose for a career-high 26 points, Roe deserves a ton of credit for holding Leuer to 10 points. In fact, the entire Michigan State team ratcheted up the defense down the stretch. Leuer was nowhere to be found at the game's critical points, so Wisconsin had to rely on Taylor. The Spartan guards made life very difficult for him, forcing Taylor into numerous difficult shots en route to a game-high 20 attempts.
Afterwards, Taylor took the loss personally:
"That's my fault as a point guard," said Taylor, who led the Badgers with 21 points but missed a shot late in overtime that could have been a game-winner. "No good point guard ever should have his team lose a game when they are up by nine with 2 minutes left."
On the other end, Lucas made the right plays when he needed to as a senior should. Tom Izzo's point guard shrugged off a tough shooting night (4-of-17) to find the right players in the right positions to make plays. One of those players was Green, whom few teams have an answer for when he is dialed in.