In an up-and-down game between two Big Ten powers, the Michigan State Spartans barely pulled out a win at Madison, 49-47.
Wisconsin’s Kohl Center has been a House of Horrors for the entire college basketball world since Badgers coach Bo Ryan came aboard. With a .917 win percentage in Madison since winning multiple national championships with Wisconsin-Platteville, legendary Spartans coach Tom Izzo has felt the wrath of Ryan’s home dominance.
Until Tuesday night, that is.
Coming into the tilt having run his team’s record to a paltry 1-8 in Madison when facing Ryan, Izzo understood the type of game his team was in for and what type of victory his team might enjoy should they leave town with a win.
It would be a tough, old-school, Big Ten-style win — and that is exactly what happened.
The game was low scoring throughout, but after both teams trotted to the locker rooms at halftime with the Badgers leading by a mere point, 28-27, whatever adjustments were made must have been on the defensive end of the floor.
Michigan State leading scorer Keith Appling led the way once again, scoring 19 points. However, Wisconsin did not make it easy. Averaging 13.5 points per game, Appling finished a mere 6-of-17 from the floor and 3-of-8 from beyond the arc.
The true star of the evening was Appling’s fellow guard Branden Dawson. At 6-foot-6, Dawson has only begun to crack the surface of his potential. He finished 7-of-14 for 18 shots with a game-high 13 rebounds.
The efforts of Izzo’s two star guards proved just enough to overcome the poor shooting night for Wisconsin. Ryan Evans shot 2-for-12, Mike Bruesewitz shot 4-of-10 and Jared Berggren finished 3-of-10. On the whole, the Badgers finished with a 29.6 shooting percentage.
Had they managed to make a few more open jump shots, the result of this one may have been very different. As it was, Michigan State escapes their Halloween House of Horrors with a 2-8 record against Ryan, and Wisconsin is dealt its second loss in conference play.
Both teams played extremely well on the defensive end, but if either wants to make noise in the conference and NCAA Tournaments, there is going to have be some jump shot practice.