Game Day Grades: No.9 Michigan State

MADISON - Bringing the toughness needed to match the physical Spartans, Wisconsin put four players in double figures, got a clutch shot from point guard Traevon Jackson and shut down the best offensive player in the conference in a 60-58 victory Sunday. BadgerNation hands out the grades.

Offense: A-

The Wisconsin offense was able to find consistency and avoid the scoring that had become the norm over the last three games. Wisconsin was able to do a little bit of everything by getting the basketball into the low post and getting shots from mid-range. UW also saw freshman Nigel Hayes be aggressive around the rim and get to the free throw line consistently, finishing 8-for-12 and with a team-high 14 points. The Badgers finished the game 13-for-20 from the charity stripe.

Josh Gasser and Sam Dekker were second to Hayes with 11 points each and Frank Kaminsky had 10 points, with seven coming in the second half.

One thing Wisconsin couldn't do was waste any possessions and the Badgers did a better job of that into the second half. UW finished with 14 turnovers, six in the second half. The Spartans defense was able to force Jackson into five turnovers, and did a good job of pressuring him and making him into mistakes.

Wisconsin finished the game 19-for-42 (45.2 percent) from the field and went 9-for-23 (39.1 percent) from three.

Defense: B+

Although the Badgers had trouble defending Adreian Payne (who led all scorers with 24 points), UW was able to slow down the Spartans leading scorer in Gary Harris (six points). Harris entered the game averaging 18.2 points a game but junior Josh Gasser did a solid job of keeping containment, holding Harris scoreless in the first half and 3-for-20 for the game. Four of Harris points came off of layups, which occurred in transition for the Spartans.

The Spartans finished the game with 28 points down low and Payne's size was a little too much for Kaminsky and Hayes, who got into foul trouble in the second half. The Spartans finished the game shooting 24-for-60 (40 percent) from the field.

With Hayes and Kaminsky in foul trouble, the Spartans grabbed all nine of their offensive rebounds in the second half. However, the Badgers did a good job of limiting second chance opportunities, as the Spartans finished with only eight points in that category.

Although Payne was able to find success around the rim, the Badgers were able to force him into six of the 11 Michigan State turnovers. Wisconsin was able to convert the Spartans miscues into nine points.

Overall: A-

This was a game Wisconsin needed against an injury-plagued, yet still talented, Spartans team which should serve as a good confidence win.

Wisconsin was able to get good balance scoring despite Ben Brust having one of his worst shooting performances of the year (2-for-9 overall, 1-for-8 from 3-point range). Brust missed his first seven 3-pointers until he knocked down a critical three to put the Badgers up by seven with 3:37 to go in the game. However Brust failed to help ice the game for Wisconsin when he missed a critical free throw with Wisconsin up by three with 19 seconds left. Shooting 94.3 percent from the free throw line this season, Brust could have been the goat if it wasn't for Jackson.

The Badgers bench was able to out score the Michigan State's bench 16-6, thanks in large part to Hayes' 14 points. Duje Dukan was the responsible for the other two points, his first points since the Michigan game January 18.

Game MVP: Traevon Jackson. Absorbing most of the criticism during the team's January slide, Jackson game-high eight assists, going along with his five rebounds and clutch jumper, helped overcome the five turnovers he struggled with, some as a result of miscommunication between players. With the results of the last two games speaking for themselves, it's obvious that Wisconsin goes with how Jackson goes.


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