Wisconsin-Michigan State recap: Badgers fall in regular season finale to No. 2 Spartans

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MADISON, Wis. — No. 2 Michigan State defeated Wisconsin 68-63 on Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center in the regular season finale to snap the Badgers’ three-game winning streak. Wisconsin dropped to 14-17 overall and 7-11 in Big Ten play.

WHY WISCONSIN LOST: Michigan State’s Miles Bridges is a potential NBA lottery pick. But what makes the Spartans so good is that they can outplay opponents even when Bridges isn’t at his best. Bridges made just 1 of 7 field goals in the first half for 2 points. Yet guard Cassius Winston and forward Nick Ward scored in double figures to help Michigan State take a 34-27 halftime lead. Bridges finished with 10 points, while Winston tallied 20 points and Ward 14 points. Michigan State also out-rebounded Wisconsin 40-28. The Spartans weathered a major second-half run from the Badgers, led by guard Brad Davison’s 11 consecutive points. Wisconsin trailed just 52-51 before Michigan State buried consecutive 3-pointers from Jaren Jackson Jr. and Winston to take back control of the game.

WHAT IT MEANS: Wisconsin played well down the stretch to win three of its last four regular season games. A victory against Michigan State would have given the Badgers a four-game winning streak, including two against top-10 teams, entering the Big Ten Tournament. As it stands, however, Wisconsin enters the Big Ten Tournament with almost no expectations. Wisconsin should be considered a toss-up to win its first conference tournament game on Thursday. But it would be a major story line if the Badgers can make it to the weekend. Wisconsin’s lack of depth makes it highly unlikely that the Badgers could run the table and win four games in four days to earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin has provided fans with some hope for a decent showing given how the team has performed the past two weeks. But expect the Badgers to miss the Big Dance for the first time in 20 years.

WHO STARRED: Davison hasn’t even finished his first season with the program. But he likely will go down as one of the most beloved players in school history for his toughness, determination, grit and playmaking ability. Davison aggravated his left shoulder injury during the second half against Michigan State and was forced to leave the game. But he quickly returned after being examined by the team trainer and caught fire from the field. Davison scored 11 consecutive points to help resurrect Wisconsin’s comeback bid. He finished with a career-high 30 points. Ethan Happ added 13 points and 6 rebounds.

WHO STUMBLED: Nate Reuvers and Khalil Iverson each were held scoreless during the first half. Reuvers finished with 2 points, while Iverson didn’t score. The duo combined to shoot 0 for 6 from the field. Aleem Ford tallied 5 points on 1 of 4 shooting from the field.

WHO WAS THERE: Seven of Wisconsin’s eight committed football prospects for the 2019 class were in town this weekend. Former Badgers basketball players Tracy Webster, Michael Finley and Rashard Griffith attended the game. Former football players Beau Allen and Chris Maragos, who were a part of the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl-winning team this season, were honored on the court during a timeout in the first half.

WHO IS NEXT: Wisconsin plays in the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

BOX SCORE:

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