Game Day Grades: Michigan State

INDIANAPOLIS - Wisconsin played the first 10 minutes of its Big Ten Tournament semifinal against Michigan State almost perfect. The other 30 minutes were another story, as No.8 Michigan State's size and strength helped propel them to 65-52 victory. Badger Nation hands out the grades.

Offense: C

If Wisconsin wanted to win the game, they had to avoid scoring droughts. Unfortunately for the Badgers, they suffered two prolonged scoring droughts, including one that lasted close to 12 minutes, which cost them any chance of advancing to their first Big Ten Tournament championship game in four years.

After struggling against the Hoosiers, senior Jordan Taylor played better leading the team with 19 points on 6-for-14 shooting. Ryan Evans was right behind Taylor in scoring with 18 points. Evans was being aggressive throughout the game by trying to find some driving lanes so he could get some easy points at the rim.

Mike Bruesewitz was scoreless against the Spartans and is 0 for his last 18 from 3-point range. Bruesewitz is in a severe shooting slump and that's an understatement. I know he does other things well (i.e. rebound, fighting for loose balls) but he has to find a way to get out of his slump if the Badgers want to make a tournament run. Bruesewitz had an easy bunny at the low block, but waited too long to put the shot up. Not only did he cost his team two points, Michigan State hit a 3-pointer in transition following the miss.

Rob Wilson was the story against Indiana with his 30-point showing, but only managed to put up six points in the game. Although Wilson did not play as well as he did yesterday, partly because Michigan State hounded him defensively, he still played with confidence.

Jared Berggren, like Wilson, had a good game against the Hoosiers but struggled against the Spartans' bigs and managed six points. The only field goal he made was a three.

The Badgers came out shooting the basketball well but trailed off as the game progressed, finishing 17-for-49 (34.7 percent) from the floor.

Defense: C-

Despite Draymond Green struggling from the floor (3-for-9 shooting), the Badgers couldn't limit Green from cleaning up the glass. Green was able to get eight of his 14 points from the charity stripe - going 8-12. The area where the Badgers really struggled with Green was on the glass. Green had a team-high 16 rebounds in the game, as Wisconsin really struggled with its post defense.

Michigan State shot 50 percent against Wisconsin (21-for-42) and was able to distribute the basketball well to find the open shooter. In addition to Green scoring in double figures, Keith Appling had 13 points and Austin Thornton had 12 points. Thornton went 4-for-4 from 3-point range, including knocking down three open 3-pointers due to poor rotation on the Badgers' poor transition defense.

UW's transition defense needs some work before the Badgers get into the NCAA Tournament. The Badgers need to be alert especially with a team that likes to run like Michigan State, as UW was caught sleeping when getting back on defense and was burned for easy buckets.

The Badgers did force the Spartans into 12 turnovers in the game - seven of which came off of Badger steals.

Overall: C

The Spartans simply played better then the Badgers, which was evident by Wisconsin suffering through a pair of lengthy scoring droughts. Ben Brust only received three minutes of action and, like Bruesewitz, has been on a scoring slum as of late. Still, it's surprising he received that little time considering Wilson's shot wasn't falling like it was yesterday.

I don't know if Taylor saw something to begin the second half but Taylor and Evans tried to connect on an alley-oop that would have sparked UW's modest cheering section. It backfired, as Evans wasn't able to catch the basketball cleanly and it resulted in a turnover. Wisconsin would have been better off looking for a high percentage shot to begin the half. The Badgers ended up having 10 turnovers in the game.

Game MVP: Taylor and Evans. Both Taylor and Evans led the Badgers in scoring today and helped keep the Badgers in the game. Taylor's shot selection was better while Evans pushed his steak of scoring in double figures to 12 games. Evans' shot was more consistent against the Spartans and he looked to try and get to the hoop. He had a nice drive to the rim where he put down an impressive dunk and has really developed that type of play over the course of the year.


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