In the last five games, the Spartans allowed their opponents to shoot 53.5 percent from the floor and 47.5 from 3-point range. Wisconsin made sure that trend continued. Wisconsin's 3-point shooting was phenomenal, as the Badgers took advantage of all the open space in the Spartans' defense and hit some tough shots in the process.
As a result, the Badgers shot 65.2 percent (15-for-23) and scored 43 points in 25 possessions in the first half. UW never cooled off either, finishing the game shooting 59 percent from the floor (23-for-39), 64.7 percent from 3-point range (11-for-17) and 96.2 percent from the free throw line (25-for-26), simply outstanding.
"We made some tough shots today," UW Coach Bo Ryan said. "Michigan State was guarding the heck out of us. They were doing all the right things … but we hit some tough shots with the shot clock winding down."
Any scout watching Sunday probably raised Jon Leuer's draft stock a couple points. Leuer carved up Michigan State's defense throughout the 40 minutes. He was dominate inside, a force outside and registered some jaw-dropping moves, none prettier than his spin move outside the post that left Draymond Green picking up his jock strap as Leuer laid in the easy two.
Taylor didn't do any of those kinds of moves, but the junior point guard was simply on fire throughout. Taylor finished with a career-high 30 points and, as Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said, made most of his shots even though they were contested. Taylor had no problems going against MSU's Keith Appling, one of MSU's best defenders, as he shot 69.2 percent (9-for-13) and was as balanced as Leuer, scoring 12 from two, 9 from three and 9 from the free throw line.
If Taylor, who also had a 6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, isn't in the discussion for conference's player of the year, this performance will certainly make others take notice.
"He's just a leader," Ryan said, "and he's getting better."
The last time these two teams met, Green scored the Spartans first eight points in overtime, and finished with a career-high 26 points. Not the case Sunday, as the Badgers' defensive rotations limited Green for 13 points on 4-for-10 shooting. The Badgers also corralled Durrell Summers, who shot 3-for-12 from the floor.
The Badgers were more aggressive fighting for loose balls, more physical in the post and were in the right position to draw fouls, as MSU committed three offensive fouls and multiple loose ball fouls as a result of being out of position.
The Badgers struggled controlling Kalin Lucas at points, who was MSU's sole means of offense with 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting and the Spartans themselves made some tough shots, shooting 47.8 percent in the first half and 43.5 percent for the game.
Michigan State came in as a wounded, cornered animal. They left with its NCAA Tournament hopes nearly dead, which the UW students politely pointed out with the ‘NIT' chant they serenaded MSU with throughout the game.
An outstanding shooting performance by Wisconsin that it's hard to find any fault in. The Badgers were sound offensively (except for getting slightly sloppy in the second half with seven turnovers) and were dominant on the glass, holding the Spartans, a team that has led the nation the last two seasons in rebounding margin, to only 18 offensive rebounds.
"I haven't seen a barrage of shots made like that since I've been in the league," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "If they shoot like that, they'll win the National Championship. I really mean that, I thought they were that impressive shooting the ball. Everybody that shot it, it went in."
MVP: Taylor. His career high 30 points made him the first player to hit that mark since Jason Bohannon did it against Indiana last February and his ability to score three different ways (four if you include his ability to find the open man) makes him one of the more dangerous players in the Big Ten.