Sunday, December 5, 2021

Torberts shot not enough

January 14, 2002
Freshman guard Kelvin TorbertMs, Wisconsin guard Freddie Owens (24)Ms and Wisconsin forward Mike Wilkinson (54)Ms watch the final shot of the game, made by TorbertMs. The shot would have given the Spartans a victory, but was ruled no good by officials. —

The old sports cliché “catch the ball with two hands” haunts Kelvin Torbert after Saturday’s 64-63 loss to Wisconsin.

In one motion, the freshman guard caught an inbound pass, cradled the ball and banked in what seemed to be the winning shot as time expired.

But after officials reviewed the play, the shot was disallowed.

A player can’t posses the ball with fewer than :04 on the clock, said Ken Sudall, observer of Big Ten officials.

Even though MSU (9-7 overall, 0-3 Big Ten) knew the rule, the sudden emotional swing was hard to swallow, Torbert said.

“I thought it was good because it went so fast,” he said. “It was an instant thing. It was really crazy. They change a game like that at the end, that’s really hard on you.”

And in an instant, Wisconsin (9-8, 2-2) halted the nation’s longest home-winning streak at 53 games.

MSU head coach Tom Izzo said he immediately knew the shot didn’t count.

“It was a hell of a play,” Izzo said. “It was a great pass, but it was the right call, so if anybody is trying to stick up for us - don’t.

“To be honest with you, we got just about what we deserved.”

That’s because MSU watched a 42-32 second-half lead dwindle turnover by turnover.

“We had a 10-point lead and we threw three (possessions) away in a row,” Izzo said. “We just did a miserable job of taking care of the basketball.”

Despite committing eight turnovers in each half, MSU still had one chance to send the game into overtime and two chances to win it in the final 19.9 seconds.

Down 63-62, Badger guard Freddie Owens hit what turned out to be the winning layup.

Following Torbert’s final play, fans rushed the court, but moments later everyone was shell-shocked, sophomore forward Adam Wolfe said.

“It’s almost like we didn’t think it could happen,” Wolfe said. “The fans felt that way too. We played well at home and had a great fan base. The fans were great today, we just weren’t.”

Izzo took Wolfe out of the starting lineup, using him as a spark off the bench Saturday.

Wolfe said he requested to be removed from the starting lineup.

“I haven’t been able to get in a groove,” he said. “Early in the season I was able to come off the bench and bring some life and some energy. I felt like I’ve been playing tired and I didn’t like that.

“Hopefully in the future it will work out better for us.”

One reason it may work out better in the future is junior forward Adam Ballinger’s expected return to the starting lineup. Ballinger played 13 minutes Saturday, after missing four games with a sprained right ankle.

Ballinger said his movement was restricted Saturday, but his minutes should increase with more practices.

“Other than that I’m not second guessing it or anything,” Ballinger said. “Once I get into practice and start playing a little more things should fall into place, and I should get a lot more minutes.”


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