Notes: Spartans Continue to Flounder

The Michigan State-Wisconsin rivalry had been so heated over the last 10 years that CBS picked the game for its national spot back before the season started. What viewers saw Sunday was the continued emergence of one of the country's best young point guards and a tradition power continuing to implode.

MADISON - It's telling that Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo's post-game press conference was longer than Bo Ryan's and the UW players' combined. There were plenty of questions to ask after Michigan State was blown out of the Kohl Center by Wisconsin. Scorelines can sometime be deceiving, but Wisconsin's 82-56 win was as lopsided as it looked.

It's been a particularly brutal week for the Spartans, who lost consecutive games by at least 20 points for the first time since 1996. They've lost five of its last six games and hasn't won a game in regulation since Jan. 3.

The losses to Iowa and Wisconsin dropped Michigan State to 5-6 in Big Ten play and 13- 10 overall. Unbelievably, Michigan State could be in serious danger of not making the NCAA tournament for the first time in 14 years.

With guard Korie Lucious recently dismissed from the team and forward Delvon Roe nursing a knee injury, it's not as if there's help on the way.

"My options are limited on what I can do," a somber, defeated-sounding Izzo said.

Of course, the Badgers are familiar with what Michigan State is going through. Two years ago, Wisconsin had its own rough patch, losing six in a row during the middle of the conference schedule. That team managed to rebound and make the NCAA tournament where as a 12-seed it knocked off fifth-seeded Florida State.

"A lot of teams can relate to that," said Leuer, who finished with 20 points and six rebounds. "The Big Ten's a tough league. If you're not hitting on all cylinders, you can take a few losses in a row, then it just becomes mental and it grows from there, the snowball effect.

"But they have talented guys and they're well-coached, so they're going to be fine."

Jordan Taylor, Player of the Year?

Jordan Taylor was supposed to play Robin to Jon Leuer's Batman this year. Someone must not have told Taylor, who's developed into an equal member of the Dynamic Duo.

While the top billing still often goes to the senior Leuer, Taylor is building his own case for end of the year honors. His 30-point, six-assist statline from Sunday's game could serve as exhibit A.

"If you are good, other people will take notice," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "With Jordan, it is not even brought up in a conversation."

The Wisconsin junior averages nearly 21 points per game in Big Ten play. He's also tops in the nation with an assist to turnover ratio of 3.88. When the shot clock is winding down and plays need to be made, the ball more often than not ends up in Taylor's hands.

"As good as Leuer is … when they say the straw that stirs the drink, he is the straw that stirs the drink," Izzo said. "He definitely has made them a better team. I told him after the game, I think he's improved as much as anyone I've seen."

Much ado about nothing

When Ben Brust hit a corner three-pointer with less than two seconds left and the Badgers up 23, it brought back memories of Alando Tucker's exclamation point dunk from 2003 that drew Izzo's ire.

But Izzo wasn't upset that Brust pulled the trigger. According to the Michigan State coach, the situation made the freshman's shot OK.

"I was more disappointed in our guy," Izzo said. "You try to set some goals when it's late and you didn't want them to make another three. But I saw the poor point guard asking what to do. … When you're in a case like that, it's a big difference than a breakaway dunk with a star."

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