At times in the second half, it looked like Wisconsin might blow the the 18-point lead it built early in the second half. Despite a lot of chewed up fingernails at the Kohl Center, though, the Badgers held on for an upset win over Michigan State.
Wisconsin led nearly wire-to-wire on Saturday, on its way to a critical 64-63 upset victory over the 14th-ranked Spartans. The Badgers recorded the victory with a short staff, losing guard Kobe King earlier this week and fellow guard Brad Davison suspended from a flagrant foul he delivered against Iowa.
The Badgers jumped out to a big lead early in the first half, taking a 26-11 advantage with less than eight minutes to play in the opening half. That lead increased to 40-21 before the Spartans were able to slightly cut the lead down to 43-27 heading into the locker room.
Michigan State came out of the break firing on all cylinders, though, putting together a 16-5 run in the first seven minutes of the second half to cut the lead to five. A few minutes later, a Cassius Winston bucket made the score 50-47 in favor of Wisconsin. That was as close as the game got until the final shot, though.
Wisconsin quickly extended the lead to 11 points again in the second half, and a late rally fell short for Michigan State.
Four Badgers scored in double figures, led by Nate Reuvers who had 15 points. D’Mitrik Trice had 14 points, Aleem Ford added 13 and Brevin Pritzl pitched in with 10.
Winston led the way for the Spartans, scoring 23 points and Rocket Watts had 16.
The big difference in the game came at the foul line. Wisconsin converted 12-of-15 free throw attempts while Michigan State got to the charity stripe just four times. The Spartans knocked down three of those attempts.
With the victory, Wisconsin improved to 13-9 on the season and 6-5 in the B1G. The Badgers are 10-1 at home. Michigan State lost its grip on first place, falling to 8-3 in conference play and is now a half-game behind Illinois.
Michigan State is 16-6 on the season.