MADISON, Wis. – What started as a ho-hum match on Tuesday turned into a thrilling ending.
And Michigan State basketball led AJ Hoggard, Joey Hauser and Malik Hall to a 69-65 road win over No. 18 Wisconsin, extending the Spartans’ winning streak to seven in a row .
With MSU down five and just over 4 minutes left, Hall scored four straight points with a pair of free throws and a layup while being fouled. Hauser connected on a 3-pointer that put the Spartans back in front (12-4, 4-1 Big Ten) in a game that featured 14 substitutions and four draws.
MSU coach Tom Izzo called it “game hell for us,” sparked by the performance of its veteran managers.
“AJ Hoggard was the lowest man. Joey Hauser played really well,” Izzo said. “And Malik Hall, you can see why he’s so valuable.”
SHAWN WINDSOR:Tom Izzo and AJ Hoggard finally understand each other in MSU win over Michigan
MSU made its last eight shots and four free throws to pull away, going 16-for-17 at the line for the game.
“We had some big saves there, we made some big buckets,” said Hauser, a Wisconsin native, led the Spartans with 20 points and eight rebounds, shooting 6-for-8 and making all six of his free throws. “And it wasn’t just one guy. … It’s just a testament to our leadership, to make winning plays at the end of games.”
The Badgers (11-4, 3-2), playing without forward Tyler Wahl for the second straight loss, tied twice in the final two minutes. But Hoggard scored on a pair of driving layups and had two free throws with 28.3 seconds left. After Wisconsin fell back in both on Max Klismet’s two free throws with 13.5 ticks left, Tyson Walker drained two more to seal the Spartans victory.
Walker added 13 points, Jaden Akins scored 12, and Hoggard had 10 points and eight assists with four rebounds. Mady Sissoko grabbed 11 rebounds for the Spartans, who are quickly back on the road, with a game at 9 p.m. Friday at Illinois (FS1).
Hall finished with six of his eight points in the second half and added five boards as MSU had an 18-7 rebounding advantage in the second half on Tuesday and finished with a 33-18 advantage.
Steve Crowl led Wisconsin with 19 points, while Chucky Hepburn added 14 and Connor Essegian added 13 points. The Badgers outscored MSU, 30-26, at the post, a deficit the Spartans cut late, and the Wisconsin bench had a 20-8 advantage.
Back and forth
The Spartans came out firing with a pair of 3-pointers from Akins and Walker to open the game – the 6-0 1:01 lead in the game was their biggest of the night – before missing four straight shots, including a few layups, and flipping it once.
Hauser, of Stevens Point, Wis., missed one of those around the basket and a 3-point attempt. From there, however, the senior striker started getting aggressive with the ball and bringing it to the basket. That included a nifty baseline layup on a spin move, but his dribble attack also caught the Badgers off guard defensively. Hauser made all of his free throws in the first half, his second most trips of the season behind his 7-for-8 performance in a loss to Alabama.
“We tried to get to the free-throw line a bit more,” Izzo said. “It’s not just 17, it’s a ton, but it’s a lot more than we’ve been lately. And then to go 16 out of 17, it shows you how valuable it is. I mean, we needed just about everyone to be a good team here.”
Wisconsin used the long ball to get back into the game, shooting 4-of-5 including three 3-pointers, then took its first lead at 22-21 on a conventional three-point play from Hepburn with 7:23 left.
The teams traded leads four times from then on, Hauser getting six of his 10 first-half points in the final 5:35. Hoggard found Walker with a cross pass on a post-up, and his fellow guard drained a 3-pointer from the right corner which, with just over 30 seconds left, gave MSU a 33-31 lead than had to be halved.
“I think we did a lot of good things,” Izzo said. “I thought we made mistakes when we started playing one-on-one too much.”
far from pretty
These patterns of indescribable and sometimes sloppy play continued into the second half.
The Spartans and Badgers traded leads nine times in the first 9½ minutes of the second half until Crowl’s 10:29 layup scored Wisconsin 47-46. Neither team took a lead by more than four points until Carter Gilmore’s 3-pointer with 5:43 left extended the Badgers cushion to 57-52.
It didn’t help MSU turn the ball over eight times as Wisconsin continued to dominate in the paint. Coach Tom Izzo used Sissoko and Carson Cooper exclusively after Jaxon Kohler went to the bench at 8:34 of the first half. Izzo said after sniffing out Cooper and Sissoko, who shot over his right eye and played four fouls in the 4:27 final against the Badgers big men.
Hall and Hauser, however, put MSU back in the lead with a 9-0 run. Hauser came off a screen and caught a pass down the right wing and drained a 3-pointer as the Kohl Center crowd groaned as they fired it. It put the Spartans up 61-59 with 2:19 to go, but it was brief as both teams locked in for a much higher level of back-and-forth in the final four minutes.
“I think the last game I said was pretty gritty,” Hall said of Saturday’s win over Michigan, “but I think this one was a bit more.”
Contact Chris Solari:firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari.
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Next step: Fight Illini
Match: Michigan State (12-4, 4-1 Big Ten) at Illinois (10-5, 1-3 entering Tuesday).
Trick : 9 p.m. Friday; Assembly Hall, Champaign, Illinois.
TV/Radio: FS1; WJR-AM (760).