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MSU men's basketball stifled by No. 13 Wisconsin, falls 81-66

January 26, 2024
<p>Photo courtesy of Meghan Amelia Spirito of The Daily Cardinal</p>

Photo courtesy of Meghan Amelia Spirito of The Daily Cardinal

In a Friday night showdown in Madison for Michigan State’s men’s basketball team, Wisconsin showed the country why it sits atop the Big Ten, besting the Spartans 81-66 in a game controlled by the Badgers the whole way. 

The No. 13 ranked Badgers didn’t trail once, racing out to an early lead and maintaining it with stellar defense on Michigan State's guards and execution going the other way. They did exactly what any team needs to do when facing this Spartan group: limit the brilliance of Tyson Walker

MSU’s graduate guard and leading scorer, Walker, was held to just 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting Friday night. It was an unusual off-night for the conference’s top bucket-getters.

Wisconsin guard A.J. Storr was phenomenal -- as he was in a 22-point outburst in East Lansing on Dec. 5 -- going for 28 this time around against the Spartans on 9-for-17 shooting. Whether it was beyond the arc, just inside or in the painted area, Storr had the hot hand. 

Senior guard A.J. Hoggard led the Spartans in scoring with 19 points

For the Spartans to come into the Kohl Center and get the best of a rock-solid, hot Wisconsin team was always a tall order. The Badgers are loaded with experience and veterans playing the best basketball of their collegiate careers. They match up well against the Spartans, with bigs that can score down low and a little from the outside.

The Spartans started in a similar way as it did last time around against Wisconsin with half-court offensive and rebounding struggles putting them in an early hole

Michigan State couldn’t find any type of rhythm offensively in the opening minutes. The Badgers jumped out to a 10-3 lead after forcing MSU to hit shots from the mid-range, going 1-for-8 from the field to start the game. Storr was his usual self, knocking down a deep three and pushing his way to the basket for another bucket

A three-pointer by MSU guard Jaden Akins cut the Badger lead to four points late in the first half but was quickly answered with a Wisconsin run fueled by six consecutive second-chance points. The Spartans were within striking range, but couldn’t close out enough possessions to stay that way. 

The Badgers controlled the paint in the first half both on the glass and at the rim. MSU had no answer for Wisconsin’s Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl, who maneuvered their way through the Spartan defense at will. Storr continued to attack, scoring 12 first-half points to put his squad up 43-34 entering the locker room.

MSU’s back was against the wall with 20 minutes to play, but the Spartans were a quick run away from being back in the game. Wisconsin never allowed them to do so.

Storr tallied eight of Wisconsin’s first 10 second-half points just four minutes into the frame, building the Badgers a 12-point lead that would grow to as much as 19 at one point. MSU’s offensive woes continued, highlighted by Walker, who couldn’t scrape up any of his usual second-half magic against the well-schemed UW defense. 

MSU continued to get beat up on the boards. When all was said and done, the Spartans were out-rebounded by 10 and gave up 17 second-chance points, a concerning stat for a team whose identity begins with rebounding the basketball. 

It's back to the drawing board for MSU, starting with a two-game home-stand this coming week

Now back under .500 in Big Ten play, the Spartans will return home to battle their heated in-state rival, the Michigan Wolverines, with a chance to jumpstart a potential winning streak. 

Michigan State and Michigan will duke it out on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at the Breslin Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. with the game streaming exclusively on Peacock.

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