Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Preview: No. 17 MSU looks for season sweep over No. 14 Wisconsin at the Breslin

February 8, 2022
<p>Sophomore guard A.J. Hoggard (11) cheers with junior forward Malik Hall (25) after a successful rebound during MSU’s game against the University of Michigan on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. The Spartans ultimately beat the Wolverines 83-67.</p>

Sophomore guard A.J. Hoggard (11) cheers with junior forward Malik Hall (25) after a successful rebound during MSU’s game against the University of Michigan on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. The Spartans ultimately beat the Wolverines 83-67.

Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

Michigan State returns home to East Lansing for a matchup with No. 14 Wisconsin after a 1-1 road trip to Maryland and Rutgers.

The 21-point loss to Rutgers on Saturday was MSU’s fifth loss of the season and dropped them to fourth place in the Big Ten standings (17-5, 8-3). After keeping up with the Scarlet Knights’ blistering shooting in the first half, the wheels fell off for the Spartans, who were outscored by 19 in the final 20 minutes. 

“It was a buzzsaw,” Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo said. “I thought we played pretty well the first half, and just did not answer the bell the second half. I thought their pressure, strength, size hurt us a little bit. I thought we battled through part of it and then it got a little out of hand late.”

Once again, rebounding and dribble penetration were the killers for MSU. It was the third straight game that MSU has been out-rebounded and gave up a season-high 38 points in the paint. 

MSU does not have time to lament over the loss and spend time meticulously fixing the mistakes. Instead, it turns around for a top-20 battle with Wisconsin three days later. MSU will have very little time to practice after the trip back from Piscataway, New Jersey.

“We’re trying to shore those things up in one day,” Izzo said.

Michigan State is looking for the series sweep over Wisconsin after traveling to Madison and defeating the then-No. 8 Badgers 86-74. MSU dominated the boards and had five scorers in double digits on the way to one of its marquee wins of the season. It was one of Michigan State’s best all-around performances to date this season and will look for a repeat on Tuesday night.

“I did think we played well there,” Izzo said. “It wasn't like we just played off the charts, but we played well. I thought we defended them pretty well and what we did do there was rebound. I think the rebounds was 39 to 20.”

Scouting the Opponent

Wisconsin continues to contend for the Big Ten title and sits in a tie at second place with Purdue with a 9-3 conference record. The Badgers dropped a key game last week to Illinois but have still won three of its last four games.

Wisconsin’s superstar sophomore guard Johnny Davis has continued to be a force offensively (20.6 points per game, third in Big Ten) and senior guard Brad Davison has been a steady scorer and leader for the team. Izzo said the key to the game was trying to contain the two potent scorers.

“Johnny Davis is a big-time scorer,” Izzo said. “He did get 25 last game but we made him work for all of them. So I was actually pleased with the defense. I think the key to beating them is to contain those two guys, but not let them get to the free throw line.”

The Badgers will also have starting junior forward Tyler Wahl, who missed the first matchup with MSU with a foot injury. On the season, Wahl is averaging 11 points and 5.9 rebounds per game and is an integral part of Wisconsin’s strong defense.

Izzo said his absence was a big reason why MSU was able to dominate the boards and will need to work harder Tuesday to maintain the same edge as it did in Madison.

“Wahl is a good player,” Izzo said. “He's not a great shooter but he's a good stabilizer for them. He's a solid kid that guards pretty well, rebounds pretty well and what he can do is put the ball on the floor.”

Michigan State’s rematch with Wisconsin is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Breslin Center. The game will be aired on Big Ten Network.

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