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Wisconsin men’s basketball: Michigan State recap

The Badgers earn a huge victory on the road against the Spartans on Christmas Day.

Wisconsin v Michigan State Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good afternoon!

The No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers (8-1 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) outlasted the No. 12 Michigan State Spartans (6-2 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) on Christmas day to earn their first victory at the Breslin Center since March of 2004.

The game started off inauspiciously for the Badgers as they turned the ball over on each of their first four possessions. However, this didn’t put them in the hole that you thought it might, as Michigan State was only able to muster up two points against the stout Wisconsin defense.

On their fifth possession, Aleem Ford hit a jumper...and then scored another five points to go on a personal 7-0 run to give the Badgers the early lead. Both teams spent much of the first half, proverbially, shooting the lights out. MSU ended the half shooting 58.6% from the field while the Badgers merely shot 53.6%.

The Badgers defense was forcing turnovers pretty well, with seven in the first half, while Wisconsin was able to protect the ball the rest of the first half with only one more after their original four.

Brad Davison hit and NBA-distance three then Foster Loyer hit a three of his own to tie it at 42 heading into the half. Aleem Ford and Joey Hauser paced their respective teams with 11 points each in the first half.

Sparty started the second half with 9-0 run to push the score to 51-42 but D’Mitrik Trice stopped run with three and steal and then was basically a walking flamethrower, scoring 13 straight points, to pull the Badgers back into it. Right before the halfway point of the second half, Tyler Wahl bullied his way to the bucket for two and gave the Badgers a 57-56 lead.

The rest of the half featured back and forth action. Nate Reuvers scored his first points to put UW up 63-62 and then went on a personal 6-0 run and Wisconsin never trailed again.

Aleem Ford looked aggressive all game and made one of the plays of the game when he saved the ball going out of bounds, threw it over his head to Trice who then found Jonathan Davis leaking out under the basket for two points.

Reuvers had a huge block at 3:40 and then on the next possession Davison took a charge on a MSU 5-on-4 because Reuvers was behind the play to keep the Badgers in the lead. Wisconsin iced the game with free throws from Trice and Micah Potter and also a Joey Hauser turnover.

Notable stat lines:

  • Micah Potter —> 11 points (3-of-5 shooting), six rebounds, five assists
  • Aleem Ford —> 13 points (5-of-6 shooting), four rebounds, two assists, two steals
  • D’Mitrik Trice —> 29 points (7-of-14 shooting), two rebounds, two assists
  • Joey Hauser —> 27 points (7-of-9 shooting), seven rebounds, two assists

Three things that stood out

No. 1: Points off turnovers

The Badgers, who had troubles with turnovers to start the game, were able to force a number of MSU errors which led to 24 points for UW off of 14 turnovers. Wisconsin harangued Aaron Henry into seven turnovers by himself and made Hauser throw the ball away to seal the game.

The Badgers even got out in transition a bit, including the awesome Davis play above, which may have caught the Spartans a bit off guard. Wisconsin taking advantage of the myriad Sparty turnovers was a big reason why UW ended up with the W.

No. 2: D’Mitrik Trice’s leadership

The FOX broadcast brought up, multiple times, how old the Wisconsin roster is and none are older than 24-year old Trice...and he showed it. When it looked like it was going to be the same old UW/MSU story in East Lansing coming out of halftime, Trice put an immediate stop to that.

The Spartans opened up the second half on a 9-0 run, which opened up a nine point lead, and then Trice scored 13 straight points (for Wisconsin) to only be down one point to MSU as a team (14-13). He ended up scoring 18 points in the second half and basically dragged the Badgers back into the game.

Great win in front of his brother, former MSU great Travis Trice, and parents, who were allowed at the game because it’s Christmas.

No. 3: Aleem Ford’s aggression

Almost every time Ford looks for his shot and takes it to the tin, good things happen. Ford got the Badgers on the board first after they struggled with turnovers and then went on a little personal run. He made the biggest play of the game by saving the ball going out of bounds which turned into two points for UW instead of an MSU possession.

It’s really great to see him get the ball on the perimeter and then do things besides settling for jump shots. Shoutout to Christmas Aleem!

Up next: The Badgers will return home to take on the Maryland Terrapins on Monday evening at 6 p.m. CST on FS1.