The Wisconsin Badgers lost their first game since January 12th, shooting just 34-percent while falling at Michigan State 69-57 at the Breslin Center.
The men’s basketball team entered the game as the hottest team in the Big Ten, with seven straight wins. But a cold shooting night meant the Badgers losing streak in East Lansing grew to nine games.
The Badgers fell behind 14-3 early and shot just 25-percent from the field in the first half. While things improved slightly in the second half, the Badgers had dug themselves to big of a hole.
Ethan Happ was able to get past some early foul trouble to finish with 18-points for the Badgers. But Nigel Hayes, who is a big reason why the Badgers had won seven-straight, couldn’t throw one in the ocean last night. Hayes hit just one-of-13 from the field, scoring just five points in the loss.
The Badgers (16-10, 8-5) dropped from fourth to eighth place in the Big Ten with the loss, but they trail Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State by just a half-game.
Wisconsin’s three-point shooting had been a big part of their success in recent weeks. Last night, the Badgers hit just 22-percent in the first half and 30-percent for the game.
Badger coach Greg Gard said his players didn’t attack the rim and when they did, they didn’t finish well. In the first meeting, a 77-76 Wisconsin victory at the Kohl Center, the Badgers made 29 of 36 free throws. Last night, the Badgers attempted only 17 free throws and made 11 of them.
Denzel Valentine had 24 points, ten assists and seven rebounds to lead the Spartans.
The Badgers return to the Kohl Center to host Illinois on Sunday night (6:30 p.m.).