INDIANAPOLIS -- The Spartans were looking for Draymond Green, this season’s Big Ten Player of the Year, to make something happen. But the senior struggled in the first half (two points) as the Badgers jumped out to a 20-9 lead. But the Spartans got a push from Austin Thornton, who hit three consecutive threes to start a 26-5 run in the final 9 minutes, 35 seconds of the first half. The Spartans rolled from there.
The Badgers pulled within six near the midway point of the second half, but the Spartans regained the momentum and sealed the 65-52 victory.
It was Michigan State’s third win over Wisconsin this season.
Turning point: The first turning point was Michigan State’s massive surge in the first half. Wisconsin didn’t record a field goal during a stretch that started at the 10:21 mark of the first half and ended with a Ryan Evans jump shot at 18:13 of the second half. But the Badgers didn’t go away quietly.
They launched an 11-0 run in the second half that cut Michigan State’s 17-point lead to six. But the Spartans pulled the momentum back with their own 11-0 rally.
Key player: Surprisingly, it wasn’t Draymond. Thornton was 4-for-4 from the field, all 3s. He scored 12 points. But his back-to-back-to-back treys in the first half saved the game for a Michigan State squad that couldn’t rely on Green early.
Key stat: Michigan State outscored the Badgers 14-2 in the paint before halftime. The Spartans went 21-for-42 from the field in the game.
Miscellaneous: Rob Wilson, who scored a career-high 30 points in a quarterfinal victory over Indiana on Friday, recorded six points Saturday. … Jordan Taylor scored 19 points in his final conference tournament game. … The Spartans are still alive for the No. 1 seed.
What’s next: The Spartans will play the winner of Saturday’s Ohio State-Michigan semifinal for the Big Ten tournament title Sunday. Wisconsin will find out where it’s going for the NCAA tournament on Sunday.