It could've been guessed that with road games at Maryland, Michigan State and Iowa, Wisconsin's winning streak was fragile, to say the least.
It came to a crashing halt Thursday night in East Lansing, as the Spartans showed why, despite their not sitting atop the conference standings, they're a national-title contender, beating the Badgers, 69-57.
Michigan State had this one locked up from the start, as Wisconsin had a miserable first half offensively, scoring just 23 points and shooting 25 percent from the field over the game's opening 20 minutes. The Badgers were just 7-for-28 from the field and 2-for-9 from 3-point range. Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig combined to shoot just 2-for-12 from the field in the first half. Meanwhile, the Spartans shot well, 46.4 percent from the field the final number at halftime after they shot 50 percent or better for much of the first half. Michigan State opened the game on a 14-3 run, and the first-half edge grew as big as 16 as the shots just weren't falling for Wisconsin.
The Badgers shot better after halftime, 41.9 percent, and actually outscored the Spartans, 37-34, over the final 20 minutes. But the damage was well done by then. Michigan State's lead grew as big as 22 in the second half.
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The Spartans finished with a 46.4-percent shooting mark, much better than the Badgers' final 33.9-percent mark. Michigan State also held edges in rebounding (38-31) and fastbreak points (13-2).
Denzel Valentine had another big game as he continues to boost his candidacy for national player of the year honors. He finished with a game-high 24 points and recorded a double-double — his eight of the season — with 10 assists, coming three rebounds shy of another triple-double. Bryn Forbes scored 17 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Eron Harris finished with 10 points.
Ethan Happ had a team-high 18 points for Wisconsin, and Koenig finished with 12, making a trio of 3s. Hayes finished with just five points, going 1-for-13 from the field.
The win vaulted Michigan State into a four-way tie for fourth place in the ever-changing Big Ten standings, sharing a 9-5 conference mark with Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue. Sitting at 22-5 overall, the Spartans next travel to take on Ohio State next week.
The streak-snapping loss sent the Badgers to 16-10 overall and 8-5 in the league. Next up is a Sunday game against Illinois.