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1/21 Big Ten Basketball Recap: Spartans Pick Up Road Win Over Badgers

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Friday night saw a doubleheader on FS1, with three ranked teams playing tonight. Let’s take a look at what happened.

Game of the Night

#14 Michigan State Spartans 86, #8 Wisconsin Badgers 74

In tonight’s biggest game, Wisconsin came out quickly with an 8-0 run to start the night. Then Michigan State took over for the rest of the first half, outscoring the Badgers 42-18 over the last 17:20. Getting off to a hot start, the Spartans hit 58.6% of their field goals in comparison to Wisconsin’s 27.3%.

Wisconsin was able to work itself back into the game, cutting the deficit to six in the second half. The Spartans responded with a quick 7-0 run to open the lead back up to 65-52 with less than eight to go. Capitalizing on a medley of second chance points, fouls and missed opportunities for the Badgers, Michigan State didn’t look back after pushing the lead back to double digits.

Michigan State finished shooting 52.7% from the field and 50% from three. They spread the ball around, with five players reaching double figures. Interestingly enough, three of those five came off the bench, with Malik Hall leading the team in scoring with 14 points. They still committed 13 turnovers, but when the Spartans offense is rolling it goes a long way to cover up their issues taking care of the ball.

The Badgers shot 43.3% from the field and 42.9% from three, but were out rebounded 41-22. Johnny Davis once again had a big day with 25 points, followed by Brad Davison’s 22. Besides the two guards no one else reached double figures, with the remaining three starters scoring 20 points total. The Badger bench was outscored 43-7.

The win puts Michigan State back on top of the conference with a 6-1 record, sitting ahead of Wisconsin and Illinois (both at 6-2). Tom Izzo’s squad bounced back nicely from a home loss against Northwestern and got a big win with a road trip to Illinois on deck for next week. Wisconsin gets a little bit of a breather next week with games against Nebraska and Minnesota, both of which should be an easier challenge than Michigan State.

The Rest

Maryland Terrapins 81, #17 Illinois Fighting Illini 65

In their follow up to an exciting home loss against Purdue on Martin Luther King Day the Illini came out with an absolute dud. Of course they did have to go on the road without their star center Kofi Cockburn, who sat due to a concussion, but losing at Maryland without Cockburn is still largely inexcusable.

A relatively close game for most of the night, the Illini took the lead on Andre Curbelo’s only field goal of the night with 7:57 to go. Unfortunately for the Illini, they would go on to score only seven more points the rest of the game, getting outscored by Maryland 24-7. Illinois made only two field goals in almost eight minutes to close.

It was a poor shooting night for Illinois, hitting 39% of their field goals and 31.4% from three. Curbelo, who was huge in his return against Purdue, went 1 of 6 from the field and scored only 4 points. Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk, starting in place of Cockburn, scored only 6 points while adding a single rebound. The Illini defense also struggled heavily, allowing Maryland to make more than 57% of their two pointers and sending the Terps to the line for 25 free throw attempts.

Maryland had a huge performance from Donta Scott, who scored 25 points and added 6 rebounds from the bench. Maryland limited fouls and turnovers and did enough defensively down the stretch to take down the Illini.

The second loss in a row for the Illini could prove costly if Illinois wants to contend for a Big Ten title. While they still remain towards the top, the schedule is about to pick up with four of the next five games including Michigan State, Wisconsin and road trips to Indiana and Purdue. Not to be outdone, the close to the season includes road trips to Michigan State and Michigan alongside home games against Ohio State and Iowa. The margin for error was slim and losing to lowly Maryland could prove detrimental to the Illini’s title hopes.