Game Day Grades: Michigan State

MADISON - Wisconsin held Michigan State to over 21 points below its season average, but the Badgers dropped further out of first place because of their inability to shoot the basketball consistently from anyone on the floor, especially the free throw line. Badger Nation hands out the grades.

Offense: D

The offense as a whole struggled against Michigan State. Only one Badgers player, Mike Bruesewitz, scored double digits (10 points on 4-for-10 shooting). Despite their struggles and lack of interior presence, Wisconsin kept it close the whole game. UW shot only 29.6 percent from the field, and heaved up 27 three pointers in the game, 17 of which were in the first half.

Wisconsin made only one field goal in the final seven minutes, and it was a Ryan Evans' three to cut the lead to one. The ugly looking shot was Evans' lone offensive bright spot. Evans had only six points on 2-for-12 shooting, one of which was given to him because of goal tending.

Michigan State tightened up in the second half because of a zone defense and put Wisconsin at the free throw line, a place that isn't too friendly to them. Tuesday was no different; the Badgers were 7-for-18 from the line. George Marshall could have turned the Badgers' free throw woes around by making two to tie the game, but he missed the first one long. Marshall finished with four points on 1-for-4 shooting.

The Badgers turned the ball over on each of their first two possessions and finished with more turnovers (9) than assists (8) for the third time this season (at Marquette, vs. Illinois). The Badgers did grab 16 offensive rebounds against the Spartans, but could only turn them into 15 points.

Defense: B-

The Badgers' front court was doing its job defending the Spartan's big men even without Frank Kaminsky, but Keith Appling and Branden Dawson exposed UW's guards to combine for 37 of Michigan State's 49 points. Traevon Jackson and Ben Brust struggled on the defensive end with Appling, who was having no trouble when he drove to the basket against the Badgers defenders. Appling caused a lot of trouble on drives because of his strong pull-up jumper.

Dawson was the beneficiary of the Badgers' defensive help against Appling. Dawson scored 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting and also grabbed 13 rebounds. Wisconsin did close out pretty well and grabbed 35 rebounds, force 10 turnovers and held the Spartans to shoot 38.3 percent from the field.

Overall: C

The Badgers' continued the momentum in the wrong direction for a second straight contest, blowing a seven-point lead in the first half with their inability to consistently knock down shots and stop Michigan State's penetration was their undoing.

The defense did a nice job holding Michigan State to score 49 points and limiting Adreian Payne (9.4 points, 7.1 rebounds) to two points and two rebounds. The defensive effort is all for naught though when the offense only scores 47 points. As the Badgers have found out this year, it's tough to win games while missing 11 free throws.

MVP: Mike Bruesewitz. Bruesewitz had a decent game, bringing the energy like he always does. He was hot from beyond the arc in the first half, but was relatively quiet in the second half. Bruesewitz scored 10 points and brought down seven rebounds. He also finished with a team-best two steals and was one of the lucky ones who don't have a missed free throw on their shoulder.

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