Breakdown: Michigan State vs. No.5 Wisconsin

After failing in its first attempt to earn a share of the conference title, No.5 Wisconsin again tries to earn a piece of the Big Ten crown when it hosts Michigan State in the home finale this afternoon. BadgerNation takes a closer look at the Spartans and profiles senior Duje Dukan.

Michigan State (19-9, 10-5 Big Ten) vs. No.5 Wisconsin (25-3, 13-2 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Sunday, March 1, 3 p.m. Central

Arena –Kohl Center (17,249)

Television -CBS (Verne Lundquist and Dan Bonner)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Michigan State leads 75-61 (Wisconsin leads 44-24 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Michigan State won, 83-75, on March 15, 2014 in Indianapolis

Wisconsin Probable Starters

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 12.1 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 13.1 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 7.0 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 7.7 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Senior Forward, 17.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 2.2 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 4.9 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 2.1 ppg)

Michigan State Probable Starters

5 Bryn Forbes (6-3 Junior Guard, 8.9 ppg)

11 Lourawls Nairn Jr. (5-10 Freshman Guard, 2.4 ppg)

22 Branden Dawson (6-6 Senior Forward, 12.3 ppg)

34 Gavin Schilling (6-9 Sophomore Forward, 5.9 ppg)

45 Denzel Valentine (6-5 Junior Guard, 14.9 ppg)

Off the Bench

0 Marvin Clark Jr. (6-6 Freshman Forward, 4.6 ppg)

3 Alvin Ellis III (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 1.6 ppg)

10 Matt Costello (6-9 Junior Forward, 7.2 ppg)

20 Travis Trice (6-0 Senior Guard, 14.1 ppg)

Last Meeting

INDIANAPOLIS - Wisconsin’s first half was its undoing, as No.22 Michigan State overwhelmed UW with its length, transition offense and its shooting to set the tone for its 83-75 victory in a Big Ten tournament semifinal at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Michigan State (25-8) shot 56.9 percent overall and put six players in double figures.

The Badgers put four players in double figures – led by Frank Kaminsky’s game-high 28 points – and shot 60 percent from the second half, but those title dreams seemed far fetch when the players looked up at the scoreboard and saw they were down 21 points – its largest deficit of the season – with 5:39 remaining in the first half.

After winning wire-to-wire in the quarterfinals, which included shooting over 60 percent in the second half, Wisconsin (26-7) was the antithesis of a hot start, unable to drive into the paint and attack Michigan State’s size and length. That led to a 28 percent field goal percentage, attempted 40 percent of its shots from the perimeter and long rebounds that led to transition breaks for the Spartans.

In the opening half, Wisconsin was outscored 10-0 on fast-break points and created three and-one opportunities on three straight possessions when UW was beaten off the dribble and reached in to foul.

Michigan State jumped out to a 7-0 run in the first 1:42 but put the game away with a 16-1 run over a five-minute stretch midway through the first half. That erased UW cutting the lead to six and its chances of playing in back-to-back championship games for the first time since 2007-08.

Spartans senior Adreian Payne was the wrecking crew. He scored 12 of his team-high 18 in the opening 20 minutes. He was efficient (5-for-6) and timely, answering with a putback dunk that again stymied momentum UW was trying to build. The only time he was slowed was when he was on the bench with foul trouble in the second half.

The Spartans shot 65.4 percent (17-for-26) and was over 80 percent for long stretches of the first half.

That start made the finish all that more disappointing. Wisconsin scored on 7 of 9 possessions after the 8:33 mark, but could never get the lead lower than seven until the final seconds. The backbreaker came at 5:22. Having the opportunity to get a stop and really cut into the lead, Branden Dawson caught an inbounds pass in mid-air and converted with less than a second on the shot clock. That put the Spartans up 72-63.

- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com

Last Time Out

COLLEGE PARK, MD - Having a chance to clinch a conference title for the first time since 2008, No.5 Wisconsin couldn’t contain hot-shooting Dez Wells and a Maryland team playing in front of a raucous sellout crowd, as the 14th-ranked Terrapins ended the Badgers 10-game winning streak with a 59-53 victory Tuesday.

Losing for the first time since Jan.11, Wisconsin (25-3, 13-2 Big Ten) saw its lead in the Big Ten conference shrink to two games over Maryland (23-5, 11-4) and 2.5 games over Michigan State and Purdue with three games remaining.

They can thank Wells, as the senior scored a game-high 26 points on 9-for-17 shooting. The senior also went a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line, grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and had four assists to zero turnovers.

Senior forward Frank Kaminsky led the Badgers with 18 points, junior forward Sam Dekker had 14 points and nine rebounds and sophomore forward Nigel Hayes contributed 10 points before fouling out near the end of the game.

The Badgers’ stone-cold shooting (1-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half) coupled with 13-for-24 shooting from the field by Maryland led to halftime score of 31-20, the Badgers’ biggest deficit of the season that proved too big to overcome.

“When you're on the road and dig yourself into an 11-point deficit at halftime, it's never going to be easy to overcome that,” said Kaminsky. “We were close but we just couldn't do it.”

Sophomore guard Bronson Koenig (2-for-12, 6 points) admitted the Badgers were “definitely settling” for perimeter shots instead of attacking the low post, as well as not getting back in transition or defending the paint on dribble drives in the opening 20 minutes. The results were the Badgers gave up 16 points in the paint in each half.

Wisconsin picked up the pace early in the second half by scoring 15 points on its first eight possessions, but as has happened in a number of games lately, the offense slowed a bit when reserves came onto the court. Although Kaminsky scored eight points in the first 6 minutes, 23 seconds of the second half, his last field goal came at the 13:37 mark to cut the deficit to 35-33.

Eventually tying the score at 47 off a Koenig 3-pointer, Wisconsin had a chance to take its first lead since opening minutes. Forcing one of only six Maryland turnovers on the defensive end, Duje Dukan registered an offensive rebound off a missed Koenig jumper, but he was called for traveling while trying to secure possession, with the outside official appearing to call a foul simultaneously with the baseline referee's travel call.

A 6-1 Maryland run ensued, and the Badgers never got closer than three the rest of the game.

- William Keller, BadgerNation.com

Series Notes

UW is 14-12 against the Spartans under Bo Ryan, including a mark of 9-2 at the Kohl Center.

Since Ryan took over at UW in 2001-02, the Badgers are the only Big Ten team to own a winning record against Michigan State (min. 3 games).

Michigan State is one of just four Big Ten teams with multiple victories (2) at the Kohl Center in the Ryan era.

Including Sunday’s matchup, at least one team has been ranked in 26 of the last 27 meetings.

Izzo (20 years) and Ryan (14 years) are the two longest-tenured coaches in the Big Ten. Izzo (231) and Ryan (169) also rank 1-2 in career Big Ten wins among active coaches. Overall, Izzo ranks 4th on the Big Ten’s all-time list and Ryan ranks 9th.

Over 11 home meetings vs. MSU under Bo Ryan, the Badgers have limited the Spartans to an average of 59.7 ppg. MSU has not scored more than 64 points in any of those 11 meetings.

Wisconsin Notes

Overall, UW is second in the Big Ten shooting 47.6 percent from the field, which would rank as the 6thhighest mark in school history. The Badgers’ 75.0 percent free throw percentage would be the 3rd-highest in UW history.

During the last 10 games, the Badgers have out-scored their opponents by an 101-47 margin before the first media timeout. UW has led by an average of 5.4 points at the first media timeout, holding an average lead of 10.1 to 4.7. UW has led at the first media timeout in each of the last 10 games.

On the season, Koenig has 63 assists to just 19 turnovers. His 3.3 assist-to-turnover ratio is 6th in the nation among the NCAA Div. 1 players with at least 50 assists.

UW ranks 2nd in the Big Ten and 16th in the NCAA shooting 75.0 percent from the charity stripe. If that mark holds, it would be the 3rd-highest FT percentage in school history.

The Badgers have held each of their last 6 opponents below 60 points. Over that stretch, UW opponents are shooting just 41.2%, including a mark of 26.4 percent from behind the 3-point arc.

Michigan State Notes

Michigan State owns a Big Ten-best 38-23 (.617) mark in conference road games over the last six-plus seasons (since the start of 2008-09 Big Ten play). Wisconsin is 34-27 on the road.

MSU is averaging 17.3 assists per game, leading the Big Ten and ranking third in the nation, recording an assist on 64.8 percent of its baskets. The 17.3 average is the third-best of the Izzo era.

Michigan State owns a Big Ten-best +8.0 rebounding margin, having out-rebounded 23 of 28 opponents, ranking 13th in the nation. In the Izzo era, MSU has outrebounded 528 of 683 opponents (.773), posting a 417-111 (.790) mark in those games.

Dawson has posted double-doubles in eight of 15 Big Ten games, leading all Big Ten players in conference games. Against Nebraska, he grabbed 18 rebounds, a personal best against a Big Ten opponent. Dawson has grabbed double-figure rebounds in 11 of 15 conference games, averaging a Big Ten-best 10.8 rebounds per game in Big Ten play (9.9 rpg overall).

In Big Ten play, Michigan State averages a conference-best 11.7 offensive rebounds per contest. The Spartans grab 34.9 percent of their missed shots in conference games, ranking third in the Big Ten.

Prediction

Although he’s spent two years on the bench, one on the sidelines because of mononucleosis and the first two games of this season on NCAA suspension, the five years of Duje Dukan’s college career have flown by in nearly a blink of an eye.

“To think it’s going to be the last time we run out in front of the whole Grateful Red and the whole Wisconsin fan base is going to be weird,” said Dukan. “Everybody is excited for what’s to come with the tournament coming up and all that, so it’s just another stepping stone in the right direction.”

One of four seniors that will be recognized this afternoon on Wisconsin’s senior day, Dukan’s career doesn’t shine like the other three in his group. Frank Kaminsky is a national player of the year candidate, Josh Gasser is dubbed “Captain America” and Traevon Jackson had 84 consecutive starts under his belt before a foot injury derailed his season.

But if one thinks Dukan is any less valuable, think again. After appearing in a combined 21 games through his first three seasons, the Deerfield, Ill., native has had a productive last two years. After playing in all 38 games a year ago, Dukan has played in the last 26 games for the Badgers and is averaging 4.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.

“I’ve just been waiting for my opportunity to play,” said Dukan, who said this past offseason was his best because he finally knew what to expect after being on the court for key stretches. “I came in here as a freshman not knowing what to expect here. Obviously knew it was a very highly touted program, and I was very excited about that, but my first three years I was just waiting for an opportunity to play. That happened last year. I’ve tried to take advantage of that to the best of my ability.”

He’s certainly had his moments in his final season. Dukan averaged 10.7 points in three wins down in the Bahamas and scored a season-high 14 points (5-7 FG, 2-3 3FG), plus four rebounds and two assists in a road win at Northwestern with plenty of family and friends in the stands.

Graduating last May with a degree in international studies and is currently pursuing his master’s in educational policy and leadership analysis, Dukan’s proudest stat is the fact that he and Gasser hold the program record for being a part of 106 wins in their Wisconsin tenure.

“It’s crazy to think,” said Dukan. “It’s definitely crazy to think that it’s that high of a number. Hopefully we can add a good amount more, but just enjoying it while we can for now.”

In order to add upwards of 12 more wins to their resume, Dukan knows his shooting needs to improve. Stuck in a 3-for-23 shooting slump over the past nine games, including 1-for-13 from 3-point range, Dukan believes he is still taking good shots and just hasn’t received the friendly bounces he’s used to.

“You’d like to have an easier shot, not necessarily a 3-pointer to start off the game, especially coming off the bench cold,” said Dukan. “You’d like a free throw, a shot closer to the basket or a layup. At this point I’m not trying to think about it too much. I’m a shooter. I’m going to catch it when I’m open and shoot it.”

With the bench having been shortened over the last 11 games because of Jackson’s injury, forcing Koenig to step into the starting rotation, Wisconsin has received at least 10 bench points only three times.

“A lot of people have been knocking us for not scoring as much, which is true, we haven’t been scoring as much in the past,” said Dukan. “I think we’re also the type where our bench isn’t necessarily looking for scoring. The starters might not necessarily need scoring all the time. It might be rebounding or defense. So, depending on the flow of the game, they might need different things.”

From the perspective of the coaching staff, all Dukan needs to bring is consistency when his number is called.

“He’s got to continue to do the little things to help this team,” said Wisconsin associate head coach Greg Gard. “If scoring is a byproduct of that, great, but I think the other things like defense, rebounding, being in the right position, doing anything he can to contribute is what we need. I think he is capable of scoring more than he is, but his sample size has been small. It’s all about staying positive, chipping away and staying with it.”

It’s fitting that Wisconsin faces Michigan State on senior day with a chance to win a share of the Big Ten title. The Spartans have been a formidable foe of this senior class, as the fifth-year seniors are 2-7 against Sparty during their five years, while Jackson and Kaminsky are 1-6 against Michigan State.

Michigan State isn’t what it’s been the last couple years, but the Spartans are stellar on the road and haven’t lost back-to-back games since Kansas and Notre Dame defeated them in late November/early December. Even so, the Spartans have beat Wisconsin the last couple years because of having the clear size, height and length advantage in the low post. That’s not the case this season.

The Badgers will be pushed by the Spartans, but I can’t see Wisconsin – on senior day – missing a second chance to win a Big Ten title. Wisconsin by 9.

Worgull's Record: 26-2

Points off Prediction: 200 (7.1 per game)


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