Rushed Reactions: #22 Michigan State 83, #12 Wisconsin 75Posted by Walker Carey on March 15th, 2014
Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal between Michigan State and Wisconsin in Indianapolis.
Three Key Takeaways:
- Michigan State showed how dangerous its offense can be. The Spartans really made their offensive abilities known in this victory. Six Spartans finished in double-figures, led by senior big man Adreian Payne, who finished the game with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting in only 17 minutes. The Spartans, as a team, were a hot shooting squad throughout the victory. They finished the afternoon at 56.9 percent from the field after shooting a sizzling 65.4 percent in the first half. Dangerous teams in the postseason receive great play from the point guard position and Michigan State received tremendous support from that position on Saturday. Starter Keith Appling and reserve Travis Trice combined for 21 points and 10 assists, while only committing one turnover. There has been a lot of talk all season about how that once Michigan State gets healthy, it will be a contender to cut down the nets in North Texas in early April. If the Spartans can string together several more offensive performances like Saturday, all that talk may have ultimately been warranted.
- Branden Dawson continues to impress in his return from injury. Dawson had a big night in Friday evening’s quarterfinal victory over Northwestern, as he finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. That strong performance carried over to Saturday afternoon, as the junior finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go along with seven rebounds. Dawson had missed nine games due to a broken hand in the meat of the Big Ten schedule, but since his return at the beginning of the month, he has emerged as a very important player for the Spartans.
- Wisconsin’s inconsistent defense is troubling. In the Badgers’ 26-point victory over Minnesota on Friday night, their defense was terrific. Minnesota was held to just 57 total points on 32.8 percent shooting from the field. Bo Ryan‘s squad guarded with great intensity the other night and that was a major reason why it earned such a lopsided victory. Saturday against Michigan State was a different story though, as the Spartans were given open looks for much of the game and had very good success in converting those looks. The Spartans were able to build a 17-point halftime lead due to its scorching 65.4 percent shooting from the field in the opening 20 minutes. While its shooting percentage went down to 48 percent in the second half, Michigan State still was given many opportunities to increase its lead with little resistance from the Badger defense. To advance in the NCAA Tournament, you need to be consistently good on both ends of the court. That being said, Wisconsin is going to need to find a way to string together a stretch of solid defensive performances if it wants to advance far in the bracket.
Player of the Game. Adreian Payne, Michigan State. The senior big man only played 17 minutes due to foul trouble, but that did not stop him from making a huge impact on the game. He finished with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and displayed his shooting range by knocking back both of his three-point attempts. Michigan State’s blazing first half performance was led by Payne, who finished the opening 20 minutes with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. The Spartans will likely need Payne to avoid foul trouble going forward, but the senior showed Saturday that he can make a mark on the game no matter how many minutes he plays.
- “We got off to such a good start. We made shots, they didn’t make shots. I thought we played some of our best basketball of the year in that first five minutes, and we built a pretty good lead.” – Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, acknowledging his team’s great start to the game.
- “Definitely.” – Michigan State forward Adreian Payne, point-blank answering if the team views tomorrow’s title game against Michigan as a chance to get a statement victory.
- “When you’re down 17 at half against a really good team, it’s tough to get out of. They outplayed us that first half. We fought, we scrapped to try to get ourselves back, and just couldn’t quite get out of it.” – Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser, noting the difficult spot his team found itself in after a poor first half.
Sights and Sounds. The pro-Michigan State crowd was rapacious all afternoon. The early onslaught from the Spartans resulted in a great deal of noise from the green and white folks. After the final buzzer sounded, Tom Izzo and a majority of his team made their way over to the Michigan State section to salute the fans. A lot of Michigan fans stuck around to see who they will play in tomorrow’s title game, but it appeared that the Wolverines faithful present were divided on which team it wanted to win.
What’s Next. Michigan State advances to the Big Ten Tournament title game where it will play intrastate rival Michigan. Wisconsin now waits to see who it will play when the NCAA Tournament begins next week.