As the final seconds ticked off the clock and Michigan State basketball players were walking off the Kohl Center floor hanging their heads after an 81-66 defeat, it felt like the season was getting ready to swing the wrong way.
The Spartans did just come off a road win against a solid Maryland team just five days earlier and everyone expected this split in the two-game road trip, but a win over the No. 13 Badgers would have gone a long way in building that NCAA Tournament resume. Plus, a 13-7 record looks a lot better than 12-8, especially with a favorable stretch of games coming up.
And a loss to Wisconsin would have been fine. Like I said, everyone expected it to happen but the fashion in which the Spartans lost was unacceptable and concerning.
Michigan State came out and took punch after punch to the face and tried to respond but just couldn't. The Spartans would pull within 5-6 on multiple occasions, but it was all Wisconsin all game long which led to the blowout win for the Badgers on their home floor with a massive rebounding advantage that led to the lopsided score.
So where does Michigan State go from here? The answer might be more "war drill" practices from Tom Izzo or another player's only meeting, but truly, it just needs to be a "burn the tape and move on" situation.
Wisconsin shot lights out against the Spartans, the Badgers dominated in the post, and Michigan State couldn't seem to get any stops on the defensive end. The Spartans knew what they did wrong and it just felt like the effort dwindled as the game progressed. They know that. They have to be better and there are veterans in place to make sure that performance isn't repeated.
There's a big game against Michigan in East Lansing on Tuesday night and then a favorable stretch in February to focus on.
Everyone knows what went wrong in Madison but this team has to burn it from its memory and move on if it's going to have a shot at making a run before March.