Men's basketball squeezes by Wisconsin, advances to semifinal
NEW YORK — Just like in the Spartans and Badgers’ last meeting on Feb. 25, in which MSU narrowly escaped Madison with a five-point victory, Wisconsin gave the No. 2 team in the nation all it could handle on Friday.
The men’s basketball team defeated Wisconsin in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, 63-60, in front of a heavily MSU-supported crowd at Madison Square Garden Friday afternoon.
The Spartans are the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and the Badgers came in seeded ninth, but Friday’s outcome shouldn’t have come as too big of a surprise when you consider how tough Wisconsin played MSU in the two teams’ last meeting.
Miles Bridges, the Spartan’s most consistent scorer for much of the season, and Cassius Winston, the team’s most consistent over the last few games, were aggressive early on Friday in looking for the their offense.
Bridges drove with his dominant hand and finished a lefty layup with a foul to boot, for his first points of the game. On the next trip down the court on offense, the 6-foot-8 Flint, Michigan-native drained a 3-pointer, the first of his three on the day.
Winston continued his streaking play as of late in the early going of Friday’s contest. The sophomore scored a reverse layup driving the baseline after faking out a Wisconsin defender, and followed that up with a pull-up jump shot. Winston terrorized the Badgers with his jump shot last Sunday, as he went six-for-six from behind the 3-point line.
Wisconsin’s top two scorers also got into the fray early in the contest. Senior forward Ethan Happ and freshman guard Brad Davison scored nine points and eight points, respectively, before halftime. Happ would go on to lead the Badgers in scoring for the game with xx points, but Davison, who torched the Spartans with 30 point last time out, didn’t score again until there was 29 seconds left in the contest.
MSU led, 32-28, after a first half which featured no long runs by either team. The Spartans outshot the Badgers from the field in the first half, 43 percent to 41 percent, and the team made half of their attempts from 3-point territory.
Unlike the first half, the second period featured spurts by both squads. The Badgers went on a 14-6 run at the start of the half to take a 42-28 advantage.
The Spartans answered with a run of their own minutes later, going on a 7-0 run to take a seven point lead with five minutes to play, after the game was knotted up at 51 points a-piece.
A layup by Wisconsin freshman Khalil Iverson brought the Badgers to within two points of the Spartans, and made the score 60-58, with just under three minutes left. But a clutch three by junior Matt McQuaid from the left wing on the next possession essentially proved to be the dagger.
Bridges had a team-high 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting, and Winston followed suit with 17 points on 6-15 from the floor.
With the win, MSU advances to the semifinals to play the winner of Michigan/Nebraska Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.