No. 11 Spartans get sixth straight win
by Joe Rexrode, USA TODAY Sports
MADISON, Wis. – As usual, Michigan State and Wisconsin had themselves a little battle Tuesday night, right down to the final seconds.
Down 49-47, Wisconsin’s George Marshall – playing despite the flu – drove and was fouled by Adreian Payne with 3.5 ticks remaining. Marshall missed the first, then intentionally missed the second, but he didn’t draw rim, giving MSU the ball.
The Spartans inbounded and avoided a foul, and that was it — MSU’s second straight win at Wisconsin’s Kohl Center after losing eight straight over an 11-year drought. The No. 11 Spartans (17-3, 6-1) retain sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
Keith Appling led MSU with 19 points after averaging 16.3 points in three wins against Wisconsin last season. Branden Dawson had a career-high 18 points and matched a career high with 13 rebounds.
After a painfully slow start for both teams – five missed shots apiece and three combined turnovers in the first five minutes – the Badgers made the first run and led 19-12. But Dawson and Appling kept the Spartans in it.
Dawson had 11 points and eight rebounds in the first half and Appling scored 10. Wisconsin led 28-27 at the break after going 6-for-17 from three-point range and taking just 10 two-point shots.
The Spartans made the first run of the second half, going up 35-31 on an Appling jumper, plus the foul and free throw. But Dawson picked up two quick fouls in the next 90 seconds and had to sit, and the Badgers capitalized.
Russell Byrd came in for Dawson and committed two of four MSU turnovers in a three-minute span. That brought the Spartans’ total to seven, and it helped Wisconsin retake the lead with an 8-2 run.
Dawson came back in and stopped that with a putback, starting an 8-2 spurt for the Spartans. And that’s where it stayed for the next few physical, tense moments.
The Spartans led 47-44 with 2:09 left when Dawson just missed a dunk but got fouled trying. He hit one of two.
Gary Harris was having a quiet night at that point, but he stole a pass on the next … [For more on No. 11 Spartans survive thriller for sixth straight win, click here.]