Johnny Davis put together another star effort on the road as No. 14 Wisconsin beat No. 17 Michigan State 70-62 on Tuesday night in East Lansing.
Player of the Game: Johnny Davis
It is not that Johnny Davis was bad offensively for the last month. He still scored his points and definitely was a force on the boards. But after weeks of so-so shooting efforts, player-of-the-year-candidate Johnny showed up for the Badgers in a major way Tuesday night.
The sophomore scored 18 of his game-high 25 points in the second half to power Wisconsin to the upset win. There were four times the Spartans had the lead down to a single possession in the final 10 minutes only to see Davis push it back out on the offensive end. He was extremely efficient, going 8-for-11 from the field and 7-for-8 from the free throw line. Davis also knew he had to take advantage of the attention paid to him and he delivered three assists and a number of other passes that led to good looks.
Wisconsin has won on the road against ranked teams twice in Big Ten play this season and Davis has scored a combined 62 points in those games. He is not the only reason they won, but his ability to rise to the occasion is unmatched on this Badgers squad and in recent UW history.
The good: The bench
The lack of production from the bench has been a constant storyline throughout the season and has really been magnified when Davis was not playing Superman every game out. But the Badgers got some solid minutes from Lorne Bowman, Chris Vogt, Jahcobi Neath and Ben Carlson. It only resulted in a combined nine points but several plays were big, including a Bowman 3-pointer in the final minutes of the first half. They also got nine rebounds and Vogt had a couple blocks.
Wisconsin does not need greatness from that group but it needs complimentary play and the Badgers got it Tuesday.
The not so good: Free throw shooting
The Badgers have been rather good from the free throw line this year, shooting 74.9% as a team. That ranks fifth in the Big Ten. But they were not great from the line Tuesday, going 14-for-22 with some key misses early in the second half, including Bowman missing a pair with 12:27 left.
After that, though, they locked in, hitting eight of their final 10 from the line to close it out.
Stat of the Game: 8
That is how many fastbreak points Michigan State had. Slowing the Spartans in transition was a big key coming in after watching them have 21 in the first meeting between the two in Madison. The Badgers had to leave feeling East Lansing as though they accomplished their goal. In fact, Wisconsin outscored Michigan State in transition 9-8 this time around.
— Wisconsin’s win in East Lansing was its first at the Breslin Center with fans in the stands since 2004. The victory also meant the Badgers have won at Michigan State and at Purdue in the same season for the first time since 1963.
— After missing the first game with an ankle injury, Tyler Wahl was a clear difference maker for Wisconsin. The forward had 11 points and five rebounds, while playing a significant role in defending against Michigan State’s front line. The Badgers were 16 points better than the Spartans when Wahl was on the floor.
— Chucky Hepburn continues to impress. The true freshman was steady throughout, finishing with 11 points and three assists. Perhaps more importantly, he also did not turn the ball over.
— Wisconsin has lost four games this season and has now exacted some revenge for two of them, beating Ohio State the second time around and now the Spartans. They will have to hope for another matchup with Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament and Providence in the NCAA Tournament for a chance to finish off the revenge tour.
— The Badgers improved to 10-3 in Big Ten play, the 19th time in the last 21 seasons they have hit double digits in wins. According to UW, they are the only team in the conference that can make that claim. The win also moved the Badgers into a tie with Illinois and Purdue for first in the conference with seven games to play.
Wisconsin (19-4, 10-3) will come home to face Rutgers (13-9, 7-5) on Saturday at the Kohl Center.