But in danger of being embarrassed in front of its home crowd on a day they honored the 1979 National Championship team, fifth-ranked Michigan State refused to go down without a fight.
Marred in a shooting slumber for 75 percent of the game, the Spartans came alive in the final 10 minutes of the second half, closing the game on a 32-9 run to emerge victorious with a 61-50 win.
The loss snaps Wisconsin's season-best five game winning streak and its four game winning streak over the Spartans.
After Jason Bohannon and Marcus Landry each nailed a three pointer in a 90 second span to give Wisconsin (17-10, 8-7 Big Ten) a 12-point lead, its biggest of the game, at 12:31 of the second half, Michigan State (21-5, 11-3 Big Ten) went on its run.
After regrouping with a timeout, the Spartans, down 41-29, went on an 18-4 run over the next seven-plus minutes to take their first lead since 2-0.
Senior Marcus Landry answered on the next possession with a turn around jumper at 3:41, ending an eight minute, 30 second field goal drought, but the Spartans continued to pile it on, getting a two point jumper from Kalin Lucas (game-high 17 points) and back-to-back three pointers from Chris Allen and Lucas, the Spartans first two made threes of the game.
From there, it was all downhill for Wisconsin, as the Badgers could never answer back.
"Once we started shutting down the post on them, they started hitting there threes," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "There only threes of the game came on that stretch. In order to get something, you've got to give up something. At least we forced them to have to hit those, but I thought we could have been stronger on the inside."
Michigan State, the conference's best rebounding team at 39.4 boards per game, out rebounded the Badgers 37-25, including a game-high 10 rebounds by fifth-year senior Goran Suton.
After openly admitting earlier in the week that he disliked Wisconsin more than in-state rival Michigan, Suton, after being benched to start the game and struggling in the first half, erupted for 14 points and seven rebounds in the second half, finishing with a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds).
Thanks to Suton, Michigan State out scored the Badgers 32-16 in the paint and 15-7 on second chance points, although the Badgers failed to connect on multiple point-blank shots during the Spartan run.
"If we score on those, we cut the momentum," Ryan said. "If you are coming away with nothing on those, it's a four point or five point swing. We're coming up empty on those and there getting something down on their end and once that started, we started getting tight on some of our decisions."
Landry was the only means of offense in the second half for the Badgers, who shot 31.8 percent for the game, its lowest of the conference season. Playing his second game well under the weather, Landry finished with 11 points and was responsible for three of UW's five second half buckets.
Wisconsin led by as many as 10 points in the first half and led by six (31-25) at halftime, getting a big assist from the Spartans. Michigan State committed 10 turnovers, which turned into 12 Wisconsin points.
The second half was a different story, as the Spartans turned the ball only four, compared to eight times by Wisconsin in the second half and 11 for the game.
"The tempo changes, especially when we got down or tied," Ryan said. "We tried to play at a pace where our guys kind of rushed some things. In order to get a lead, you've got to make shots and the other team not hit some shots. It's not like they were on fire."
Michigan State also limited Hughes, who scored only two of his team-high 12 points in the second half, and completely shut down sophomore Tim Jarmusz and Jon Leuer, each of whom finished with seven points but none after halftime.