Senior guard Jason Bohannon led all scorers with 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting in the Badgers\’ 18-point win over the Spartans.[/media-credit]The Wisconsin basketball team started the game with a burst of energy, ran its offense with startling efficiency and displayed the usual brand of tough defense en route to a 67-49 victory Tuesday night over No. 6 Michigan State.With all of those factors adding up to the Badgers’ seventh straight win at the Kohl Center over Michigan State, Spartans head coach Tom Izzo used a simple phrase to sum up the UW victory.“Well I thought for the most part that was an old fashioned whooping,” he said. “They came out and really took it to us early.”“Took it to us” might even be an understatement.The Badgers poured in points with a consistency that has been lacking in the past five games, stretching the lead to 25-14 in just over 10 minutes of action. Guards Jason Bohannon and Jordan Taylor accounted for 12 points each in the first half — combining to score more than the entire Spartans squad — on an array of jumpers from all over the floor.With Wisconsin using jump-shooting big man Keaton Nankivil as a screener, Michigan State struggled to defend the dual threat of UW’s pick-and-pop action, allowing the Badger guards to spring free for a surplus of open looks.“Tom Izzo did a poor job on preparation for those ball screens,” Izzo said. “I watched enough film and just didn’t get enough done. That doesn’t go on the players, that goes on me.”The Michigan State victory gives Wisconsin three wins in three tries at the Kohl Center over top-10 teams this season. The last time UW accomplished such a feat was during the 1988-89 season.While the Badgers seem to relish stepping up in big games, UW head coach Bo Ryan disagreed with the notion that his teams play harder against superior competition.“No, I don’t see anything different,” he said.“If I had players only get fired up for certain games, that’s not good.”Compounding problems for the Spartans was a subpar effort when they seemingly gained the upper hand early in the first half.Trevon Hughes sat on the bench for 16 minutes in the opening frame after picking up his second foul on a foolish reach. Michigan State was unable to take advantage, however, with Rob Wilson providing big minutes for Wisconsin (3-for-3 in the first half) and steady playmaking from the Bohannon/Taylor combo.Izzo admitted after the game to being surprised at how the Badgers responded to the loss of their leading scorer.“I was very much so [surprised],” Izzo said about the UW’s effective offense with Hughes in foul trouble. “Give credit to them… it was those two guards… to their credit, in big games they play big.”Predictably, no one from the Wisconsin side admitted Hughes going out affected the team’s confidence.“It is part of our program,” Taylor said. “Part of Coach’s philosophy, is if ‘Pop’ (Hughes) and Jon (Leuer) are out you got to go to what’s next. Someone else has to make plays, and we just try and stay aggressive.”The Badgers entered the locker room at half time with a 38-23 lead, leaving the Kohl Center and Grateful Red to rock in their absence. In the first 20 minutes UW shot 55 percent from the field, 40 percent from beyond the arc — making six 3-pointers to zero for MSU in the first half — and could boast a sterling 10-3 assist-to-turnover ratio.Izzo thought it was the best Wisconsin had played all season, and Ryan didn’t disagree.“I would say that defensively, tracking down loose balls, we played pretty well,” Ryan said. “In order to beat a team like that you have to play pretty well.”The Badgers were able to hold serve in the second half, never letting the lead slip below eight and eventually finishing the half with three more points.Bohannon led the team in scoring and Taylor, Nankivil and Wilson each finished with double-digit points.The balanced offense came with Nankivil and Wilson making the most of their opportunities, each collecting five field goals with only three misses between them.Utilizing a four-guard offense for much of the game, Wisconsin spread the floor with five guys capable of striking from deep and was able to attack the rim.“Tonight we shot the ball a little better,” Bohannon said.“We got good post touches inside, we got a lot of points inside the paint (24 to 12 for MSU) and that was a big factor in the game.”Always one to pass off credit onto others, Ryan made a point after the game to congratulate assistant coach Greg Gard on an excellent scouting report.Considering Izzo took a lot of blame for failing to properly prepare his team, Gard’s efforts may be more influential than shows up on the stat sheet.“After the way [Gard] had the scout team running Michigan State’s stuff, and thinking about how we have done against Michigan State… you have got to give credit to the coach that has been doing the scouting report from day one,” Ryan said.
Read More »