Despite pulling within two possessions with about 10 minutes remaining in the game, the No. 4 seed Wisconsin Badgers went ice cold shooting during a key second half stretch. That contributed to an 67-55 loss to the No. 1 seed Michigan State Spartans in one of the two Big Ten Tournament semifinal matchups inside the United Center on Saturday.
Wisconsin (23-10) shot just 32.4 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes of the game, but pulled within six points at 47-41 after senior forward Khalil Iverson converted an and-one opportunity with 10:12 remaining. That would be the closest the Badgers would get for the rest of the contest as the Spartans extended its lead to as much as 15 points in the closing two minutes.
Redshirt senior forward Ethan Happ rebounded from a poor outing against Nebraska with a stronger performance against Michigan State, recording 20 points, six rebounds, three assists and four blocks. The All-Big Ten standout scored 12 of those 20 points in the final 20 minutes but only made six of 13 attempts in that span.
The only other Badger in double figures was guard Kobe King who tallied 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting with three rebounds in 26 minutes of play. Iverson also contributed eight points and five rebounds in the loss.
UW made just 24 of 58 attempts overall in the contest (35.3 percent) and a frigid two of 19 from three-point range (10.5 percent). Never trailing in the contest and leading for 39:38 of the 40 minutes played, Michigan State (27-6) shot 43.4 percent from the field and 42.9 percent (nine of 21) from deep.
As expected, Big Ten Player of the Year Cassius Winston led the way for the Spartans with a game-high 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting with six assists. Xavier Tillman recorded 17 points and seven assists, and Kenny Goins also tallied 13 points, 12 rebounds and four assists while connecting on four of seven three-point attempts. Aaron Henry contributed six points and 11 rebounds in the win for the Spartans as well.
Michigan State led by as much as 17 points in the first half thanks to shooting 58 percent from deep, but Wisconsin pulled it within a 35-27 game at halftime thanks to King contributing nine of his 13 points in the first 20 minutes of play.
Iverson’s three-point play pulled the game within six points with just over 10 minutes remaining in the contest, and his jumper at the 9:35 mark made it 49-43 to answer a Winston layup to keep it a two-possession contest.
Starting with a Brad Davison missed three at the 8:54 mark, however, Wisconsin missed nine consecutive shots. That was finally broken by a D’Mitrik Trice jumper with 2:21 remaining in the semifinal to make it 56-45. By that time, however, Michigan State extended its lead to double-digits by that point and the game essentially became out of reach.
To compound Wisconsin’s rough shooting performance, Greg Gard’s team missed all nine of its three-point attempts in the final 20 minutes. Trice and Davison combined to score 12 points on just 5-of-19 shooting overall and a mere 1-of-11 from deep, with the former also contributing four rebounds and three assists before fouling out.
UW now awaits its fate on where it will play in the NCAA Tournament that starts next week.