Turns out Butch had an open cut that wouldn't stop bleeding, but he may have well had been wondering where his shooting touch came from after his long-range shooting helped No. 10 Wisconsin (24-4 overall, 14-2 Big Ten) defeat No. 19 Michigan State (22-6, 10-5) Thursday night at the Kohl Center by a score of 57-42.
Prior to his "bank robbery" at Indiana where hit the game-winning 3-pointer, Butch had only been shooting 10-of-44 from 3-point range on the season. But since then, the UW senior center has started to heat up — shooting 8-of-14 from long-range since then — and he caught fire versus Michigan State.
The game was a close one throughout — Wisconsin went into halftime with a 28-22 lead and things stayed that way for much of the second half. The score was stuck at 30-26 for nearly three minutes of the second half before Michael Flowers' got the scoring going again with a tough lay-up.
"The score was stuck at 30-26 for the longest time in the second half," Butch said.
Then as Wisconsin was thick in the middle of a 13-4 run just under the 10-minute mark in the second half, it was Butch who put it away.
He knocked down a long 3-pointer to put the Badgers up 45-34 and then another one as he falling down with Raymar Morgan closing out on him to cap it off at 50-36.
It frustrated Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo so much that he called two 30-second time-outs—one right before the third media time-out in the second half and one right after.
"Butch hit those two 3's," Izzo said. "All of a sudden, they made a couple 3's and we missed some shots, and that was the difference in the game."
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan felt the same way.
"If Brian doesn't hit those two 3's, that's probably still a three or four possession game," Ryan said. "But when Brian did hit those, it opened it up."
Izzo wasn't the only one on the Spartans' sidelines who was frustrated, though.
Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Drew Neitzel wasn't able to hit a single shot until a 3-pointer at the 9:51 mark in the second half and was held to a 1-of-10 shooting performance – a season-low.
Also, The Spartans' leading scorer, sophomore forward Raymar Morgan, was held to seven points on 3-of-7 shooting. And despite scoring 12 points in the first half, forward Goran Sutton only scored two in the second half.
Add Wisconsin's defensive efforts along with its offensive surge and ball control – UW only committed one turnover, a school record – and the Badgers had a perfect recipe for breaking away from the Spartans late in the game.
"I don't know what happens to the other team, I just know what happened to us was once we got to the point where we could make it to the free throw line, and we could get into the (bonus) and we hit those 3's, that cushion in there gave us something to play with," Ryan said.
After five straight wins, Wisconsin goes on its Big Ten bye week as the Badgers don't play until next week Wednesday when they host Penn State for the final home game of the season.
For the Badgers, it couldn't come at a better time.
"We haven't had a break like that in a long time," said Marcus Landry, who scored eight points. "It gives us time to prepare and heal the wounds … everybody's banged up.
"A break like this is always welcome."