The Michigan State Spartans defeat the Wisconsin Badgers to advance to the Big Ten Tournament championship game against Michigan. An epic rematch is upon us, but first, how did MSU advance?
1. Today, to beat a very good Wisconsin team, the Spartans were firing on all cylinders. Especially in the first half when they almost ran the Badgers out of the gym. They started their stellar play on the defensive end, holding Wisconsin to 26 points in the first half. Their great defense allowed MSU to get out on the break and get easy looks in transition, something coach Tom Izzo calls turning turnovers into touchdowns. All the easy looks their great defense created resulted in the Spartans shooting 57% from the floor and 54% from three for the game. This type of Performance is what Spartan fans have been looking for for some time now.
2. Payne was great today despite being sidelined with foul trouble. AP led the Spartans with 18 points. He was very efficient in doing so, shooting 70% from the floor, and 2 for 2 from beyond the arc. Payne looked more aggressive down on the block today. If he is able to give the Spartans a more dominant post presence, it will open up looks for all the Spartan three point shooters like it did today.
3. Appling was aggressive like he needs to be for this team to be successful. He showed the leadership needed by a team’s point guard. When Wisconsin was beginning to make a run early in the second half, Appling knocked down back to back jumpers to keep the Spartans lead in double figures. He controlled the pace of the game, and lead the Spartans both defensively and offensively. He was more aggressive looking for his own shot which allows other players easier looks. Appling shot 10 times, making 4 of them. He finished with 10 points and 7 assists. Appling’s assertiveness allowed Harris to be a much more efficient scorer than he has of late. Harris scored 12 points on just 7 shots.
This is the exact type of performance the Spartans were looking for before heading into the NCAA tournament, now let’s see what they can do against the Big Ten champs, little brother, Michigan Wolverines.