Big Ten championship game breakdown: Wisconsin vs. Michigan State

first_imgRecapIt was a fairly even first half, as Wisconsin and Michigan State traded baskets and leads throughout the first 20 minutes of the game, and neither team held a lead larger than five points. The Spartans went into the locker room with a one-point lead following a Kaminsky three at the buzzer.Then, the second half happened.After trading leads once again for most of the second half, it appeared the game was all but over when a Branden Dawson steal and dunk capped off a Michigan State run and put the Spartans up 11 with 7:45 remaining. But a Koenig three and Kaminsky dunk gave the Badgers some momentum as they pulled within five. That Koenig three set off a 34-12 Wisconsin run, which included winning the overtime period 11-0. Michigan State shot just 5-of-15 from the field over that stretch, and the Badgers won 80-61.Turning PointWith 6:17 left in the second half and Wisconsin down 10, Kaminsky forced his way to the basket and rose up for a dunk plus a foul. Kaminsky hit the free throw and provided the spark the Badgers needed at that point in the game. That dunk was the start of a 31-10 run that pushed Wisconsin to an 11-point victory and a Big Ten tournament championship.When you knew it was overA Koenig three-pointer with 2:08 left in the overtime period felt like a dagger at the time, but we really knew it was over when Nigel Hayes stepped up to the free throw line twice over a 25-second span and hit four shots at the foul line to seal the deal for the Badgers. At that point, Wisconsin was up 10 with just over a minute remaining, and it was all but over.Wisconsin Player of the GameNigel Hayes had 25 points (5-11 FG, 3-4 3Pt, 12-12 FT), five rebounds and two steals in 39 minutes.From start to finish, Hayes was Wisconsin’s best player. His 25 points matched a career-high, but the most astounding part of the sophomore’s performance was his free-throw shooting, going a perfect 12-12 from the line. While Kaminsky, Dekker and Koenig all struggled at times for UW, Hayes remained steady the entire 45 minutes for Wisconsin on Sunday.Michigan State Player of the GameDenzel Valentine finished with 16 points (6-12 FG, 4-6 3Pt), eight rebounds and six assists in 41 minutes.When Michigan State needed a big shot Sunday, Valentine was there to deliver. His biggest hoop came after Kaminsky hit a three to give the Badgers a three-point lead with 1:44 remaining in the second half. Valentine came back down the court and hit a basket from behind the arc right over the top of the tournament MVP to tie the game. Shot after shot, Valentine was in a rhythm for the Spartans for most of the game, but it just wasn’t enough for Michigan State in the end.Key Stats– Michigan State dominated down low in the losing effort, outscoring the Badgers 36-20 in the paint.– After shooting an astounding 57.4 percent from the field in regulation, Michigan State went 0-6 from the field in overtime.– After scoring just one point and struggling to get anything going in the first half, Bronson Koenig scored 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the second half and overtime.– Wisconsin committed just seven turnovers to Michigan State’s 13, and the Badgers scored 16 points off those turnovers to the Spartans’ eight.– Wisconsin (17-20) and Michigan State (9-9) combined to go 26-29 (89.7 percent) from the free-throw line.Game Notes– Wisconsin’s 31st victory of the season ties the school’s single-season record– Wisconsin trailed Michigan State by 11 points at one point, matching its largest deficit this season– Wisconsin outscored the Spartans 13-0 over the final 5:43 of the game– Wisconsin’s 13 made three-point baskets is a season best– Duje Dukan scored 11 points off the bench, which was his first double-digit game since he tallied 10 vs. Nebraska on Jan. 11 QuotableKoenig on this being their final test before the NCAA tournament:“I thought it was really good for us to kind of have a game like this where we were behind with seven minutes left. They kind of thought they had us when we were down 11, but I just kept telling our guys, you keep fighting, never give up, and that’s what we did, and luckily we were fortunate enough and came out with a win.”Kaminsky on the atmosphere at the United Center:“It was awesome. You could hear it. Just how many fans we had there and the different between fan bases. It was the one thing that was in our favor [to] obviously have that loud of fans when we are trying to make a run is very, very good. They do factor into the game and how the other team plays. I think without our fans there, maybe things don’t go the same way.”Kaminsky on the play of Bronson Koenig:“I’d like to split that trophy right down the middle with Bronson. He was fantastic.“Bronson doesn’t get fazed very much. We all know if he misses 10, he is bound to make the next 10. We had the confidence in him, we were still passing him the ball and we were still telling him to shoot. When [his shots] did go in, we weren’t surprised at all.”Dukan on how the team fought back:“We are a resilient bunch. We’ve been down in this tournament already twice in the last two games. We didn’t panic. We just stuck with it and basically chomped at the bit, slowly cutting down the lead.”last_img

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