Saturday was Semifinal day in the Big Ten Tournament and the Top 4 teams were all still alive to battle it out. That meant no team had the benefit of additional rest as compared to the other teams. So what did the day bring? Large second half comebacks.
Game of the Day
#3 Michigan State Spartans 62 - #2 Maryland Terrapins 58
Both of these teams have no questions about their NCAA Tournament hopes, but still were trying to move up a line or two in the seeding to make the road to Indianapolis a little easier. Melo Trimble started the game on fire hitting three treys along with a floater in the lane to give the Terrapins an early 15-4 lead. At the 10 minute mark, the Spartans weren't exactly helping themselves as they shot 3 of their first 15 from the field including 2-8 from three. That compared to Maryland who was shooting 9-13 including 5-6 from three point land. Given those numbers, you would certainly believe the score of 23-9 Maryland. MSU and Travis Trice were not intimidated though as they came roaring back behind several Trice baskets to cut the deficit to five at 25-20 with 4:29 to go in the first half. The Spartans were also able to get Dez Wells a couple of fouls which really limited him in the first half of play. Despite that, Maryland took the halftime lead into the locker room 33-25. Denzel Valentine ended the half with 0 points and Tom Izzo called it "the worst half of basketball he has seen in a long time."
Michigan State came out in the second half with a lot more energy and cut the deficit to one point by the 14 minute mark of the half after a huge dunk by Marvin Clark Jr which was part of a 15-0 run by the Spartans which included Valentine's first bucket - a trey to give MSU their first lead of the game 38-36 with 12:29 to play. Dez Wells, who hadn't scored since the opening minute of the game, quickly took over with two quick baskets to grab the lead back 43-40 with 10 minutes to play. For the next few minutes, the game continued back and forth and was tied 48-48 with 5 minutes to go. Perhaps the play that set the game apart occurred with 2:07 to play and MSU already leading 53-50. Branden Dawson grabbed a tough rebound and threw a long outlet pass to Gavin Schilling who went up to dunk it and was pushed from behind by Evan Smotrycz which resulted in a flagrant foul. Schilling would hit one free throw and Dawson got a big dunk on the next possession to put MSU out front 56-50. There would be no looking back for Michigan State as they won the game with a huge second half showing of 37-25.
Travis Trice led the Spartans with 20 points and Branden Dawson chipped in 17 points to go along with 8 boards. Matt Costello was also a key off the bench with 10 points and 3 rebounds.
Maryland was led by Melo Trimble with 22 points. His closest help was Dez Wells who had a very disappointing game with 10 points and 7 rebounds. Evan Smotrycz also contributed 9 points on 3-5 from behind the arc.
#1 Wisconsin Badgers 71- #4 Purdue Boilermakers 51
Purdue likely was no longer on the bubble coming into this game and Wisconsin was looking better for a #1 seed given losses by Duke and Virginia in the ACC Tournament yesterday. This game was billed as a battle of the 7-footers -Frank Kaminsky of Wisconsin versus A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas of Purdue. And that is exactly what it was early on as Kaminsky had 4 early points and a block compared to 4 points and 2 blocks for Hammons as Purdue took a 19-12 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Purdue also had 5 points from the free throw line in the first 10 minutes which was more than they had the entire game in the first match-up in early January. While Hammons continued to play well for the remainder of the half, finishing with 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks - it was Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker that kept Wisconsin in it. Hayes had 10 points and Dekker added 6 points to finish the half. However, it was Purdue ending the half on a 5-0 run that took the lead into halftime 35-30.
Kaminsky started the second half with a bucket to end a 13 minute drought for him and Nigel Hayes & Bronson Koenig added a couple of treys to quickly erase the halftime deficit and give the Badgers a 38-35 lead. Purdue wasn't helping itself either as they were shooting 13% in the second half at the 13 minute mark. Hammons picked up his 4th foul with about 8 minutes to play and that was all she wrote for Purdue in this one as the Badgers took over with a 57-44 lead. Wisconsin committed their first turnover of the game with 6 minutes to go which is incredible against a defensive oriented team in Purdue. This helped lead to a stunning 41-16 second half score which allowed Wisconsin to run away with this one.
Bronson Koenig led the way for Wisconsin with 19 points, and he was closely followed by Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker with 15 points each. Kaminsky ended with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks in quite the all-around day.
A.J. Hammons didn't score in the second half, but still led the team with 10 points for the game. He was followed closely by P.J. Thompson and Kendall Stephens with 9 points each. Isaac Haas was a complete non-factor with only 2 points and 2 rebounds.