Saturday, January 28

Instant analysis: First-half offense, second-half defense doom Wisconsin in Big Ten tournament | Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Basketball


INDIANAPOLIS — The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team fell to 24-7 with a 69-63 loss to Michigan State in a Big Ten tournament quarterfinal on Friday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Here are my quick thoughts on the game:

What I didn’t like

Which was worse? UW’s offense in the first half or its defense in the second half.

Both were atrocious. The Badgers went 7 of 29 from the field in the opening 20 minutes, including 0 of 7 from 3-point range and 3 of 10 at the rim. They also missed six free throws.

The numbers don’t lie, either. It was that ugly.

UW finally got things going on offense after halftime and then its defense collapsed.

It had no answer for Michigan State center Marcus Bingham Jr. during a pivotal stretch in which the Spartans took control of the game. Joey Hauser got free for three open jumpers that he drained, and Michigan State point guard Tyson Walker hit some big shots in the closing minutes.

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The Badgers only had four defensive stops in Michigan State’s final 19 possessions. Two of those were because the Spartans missed free throws.

• Three days after being named Big Ten Player of the Year, UW sophomore wing Johnny Davis was humbled. He was held to 11 points on 3-for-19 shooting, with Michigan State’s Gabe Brown deserving a ton of credit for making life difficult on Davis.

But Davis forced the issue a lot during the game rather than let the game come to him.

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What I liked

Senior guard Brad Davison did his part to give UW a chance.

Davison scored a team-high 23 points before fouling out and made back-to-back 3-pointers in the second half to keep the game from getting out of control.

On a day in which the Badgers didn’t get much offensively from Davis, at least Davison carried the load.

• Chucky Hepburn had a pretty quiet day until getting hot late in the game. He made three 3-pointers over the final 3:15, including one that cut Michigan State’s lead to 65-63 with 16.2 seconds left.

Hepburn finished with 11 points and also had four assists and only one turnover in 34 minutes.

Badgers postgame: Follow live coverage after Wisconsin men's basketball falls to Michigan State

What it means

UW will limp into the NCAA tournament with its first two-game losing streak of the season. The worst part? Those defeats came against teams seeded No. 13 and No. 7 in the Big Ten tournament.

The competition is only going to get more difficult from here on out and the Badgers appear to be trending in the wrong direction.


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