January 22, 2013

First-place Spartans win again

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin's top objective Tuesday may have been to limit Michigan State's offensive chances, but Spartans guard Keith Applingspoiled that script.

Appling scored a game-high 19 points to lead Big Ten-leading Michigan State to a 49-47 victory in front of 17,249 fans at the Kohl Center.

The junior produced a four-point play on a first half baseline jumper, had a three-point play on a shorter second half shot and was perfect (4 of 4) from the free-throw line.

"We fouled him three times in the act of shooting and that doesn't happen to our teams," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "That might be more fouls on a jump shooter than we have in a season, and Appling took advantage of that."

Branden Dawson, meanwhile, added 18 points and 13 rebounds as the No. 13 Spartans extended their winning streak over the Badgers to four and snapped Wisconsin's seven-game home winning streak.

Mike Bruesewitz led Wisconsin (13-6, 4-2) with 10 points and Ryan Evans had 11 rebounds. Evans also put the Badgers into position for a come-from-behind victory when he hit an open 3-point shot with 16.7 seconds left to cut the deficit to 48-47.Michigan State's Gary Harris was fouled seconds later and hit the first of a one-and-one but missed the second, leaving the Spartans with a 49-47 lead. That gave the Badgers the ball and 10.2 seconds to work with.

With 3.5 seconds to go, Wisconsin reserve George Marshall was fouled in a flurry under the Badgers' bucket but missed both free throws and a chance to tie. The Spartans successfully inbounded the ball and ran out the final seconds.

"It wasn't pretty," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "But when you play a team like this and not get beat, it's a big win for us."

Poor shooting plagued the Badgers as they hit just 16 of 54 from the floor (29.6 percent) and were only 7 of 18 on free throws.

"It cost us games before and it obviously cost us one today," Bruesewitz said about Wisconsin's free-throw woes. "We've got to get into the gym and just start knocking them down. It's plain and simple. It can't be an excuse anymore."

Wisconsin led 28-27 at halftime, but claiming a consistent edge proved elusive through much of the second half.

There were five lead changes and a tie until Appling's jumper with 10:03 showing broke a 39-39 tie, giving the Spartans the lead for good.

But Michigan State couldn't pad the margin and its lead didn't grow beyond three points until Dawson hit a free throw with 2:09 to play to open a 48-44 advantage.

The game had a sluggish start, with no scoring through the opening four minutes. Michigan State was 0 of 4 from the field in that span. Wisconsin missed five straight shots and had two turnovers before Ben Brust hit a 3-pointer to break the scoreless tie. The Spartans finally got on the board 50 seconds later on a Dawson bucket.

Wisconsin then led for nearly 11 minutes until an Appling 3-pointer tied the score at 19-19. Evans' layup with three seconds remaining gave Wisconsin a 28-27 halftime edge.

"I like the way (Dawson) was aggressive; he's starting to handle the ball better and moving well," Izzo said. "Dawson's got to keep getting better and I thought he had a very good game. And Appling, we're just trying to keep the ball in his hands and making decisions, and I thought he did his job."

Appling also contributed defensively with six rebounds -- including five defensive boards -- and two steals.

The first-place Spartans travel to seventh-ranked Indiana on Sunday, and Wisconsin hosts No. 12 Minnesota on Saturday.

Tuesday's game was the fifth in 13 days for Michigan State. Wisconsin played four times in the same span.

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