Missouri State jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the game behind two Blake Ahearn three-pointers and never looked back in the first half.
Wisconsin looked lost on both sides of the ball, bothered by a tight defense and dogging it out against a Missouri State offense loaded with screen after screen.
"We didn't show up early," UW senior forward Alando Tucker said. "They were on fire.
"We didn't good decisions," Tucker added. "We took some bad shots, got a couple turnovers and that wasn't the type of basketball we are capable of doing."
Wisconsin cut a 17-point lead to 13 in the winding seconds before half with a Kevin Gullikson bucket from Jason Bohannon with two seconds remaining and then a Michael Flowers reverse lay-up from an immediate in-bound steal.
Nevertheless, the Badgers went into half down 32-45.
The second-half was a different story, however.
Wisconsin slowly clawed back from the double-digit deficit, and then Tucker took over. Tucker scored 17 points in the second-half, and almost single-handedly put the Badgers back in the game.
With just under 11 minutes remaining in the game, Tucker hit a three-pointer to pull within two points at 49-51. From that point on, he scored six straight points to tie the game up at 55-55.
On the ensuing possession, Tucker found Joe Krabbenhoft for a jumper on a penetration kick-out to give the Badgers its first lead at 57-55.
After finding Krabbenhoft yet again in the post in which Missouri State's Dale Lamberth goal-tended the basket, Tucker muscled in an and-1 play down-low to give Wisconsin its biggest lead at 5 points with 5:24 remaining.
"I was finding guys," Tucker said. "[Missouri State] was making sure they knew where I was, but that's where we have to have other guys step up."
After going back and forth for the rest of the game, Wisconsin found itself down 64-66 with the ball and 15 seconds remaining.
Kammron Taylor brought the ball down the court and passed off to Tucker from a pick-and-roll on the high wing. Tucker dribbled to the corner, stepped back and launched a three-pointer for the win.
However, the ball went in-and-out and the buzzer rang, giving Missouri State the victory.
"You try to beat them from the outside or make them beat you from the outside," MSU head coach Barry Hinson said of the game's last play. "We didn't want any threes, but we felt like any time you have a contested three, that's a pretty good job defensively."
For the Badgers, it was the shot they were looking, it just didn't fall in.
"We were trying to get that," Tucker said. "We were trying to get a switch to see what they were going to do. We ran the play right and it was a good shot, but it was just the tale of the game – there were other things, it wasn't the last shot that dictated the game."
"That was a pretty good shot," Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. "They weren't going to give us anything inside, they closed that off pretty well."
Wisconsin shot fairly well from the free-throw line, hitting 18-of-24, but missed some crucial ones down the stretch.
"We just got to step up in crunch time and knock them down," Ryan said.
As for Missouri State's free throws, senior Bears guard Blake Ahearn, the nation's leader in free throw percentage the past three seasons, missed a key bonus one-and-one free throw down the stretch.
"I thought that was the break we needed," Ryan said.
For a team with Final Four hopes, Ryan said a game coming down to the wire was a good experience for the team early in the season.
"These kind of games are good to have at this time of the year because they come down to the last possession," he said. "You've got to find the playmaker and Tuck's made those plays for us before. He's hit some shots."