East Lansing, MI
The #8 Michigan State Spartans welcomed the Wisconsin Badgers into the Breslin Center tonight for a Big Ten tilt. They promptly went on the attack whipping the Badgers 69-57. Michigan State snapped the Badger seven game winning streak that started with an upset of the Spartans back on January 17 in Madison.
As always with the Spartans there was a plethora of story lines, but perhaps the best was the defensive play of super star freshman Deyonta Davis. Not known as a defensive stalwart, he shut down the Badgers Nigel Hayes (only five points) in an intensity setting performance that helped dismantle the men from Madison.
Izzo was elated with his defense praising his young star Davis by saying, “Deyonta has grown up a lot since the first game. We thought we would put him on him. We wanted to press up and make his length bother him. Deyonta deserves some credit. I thought we covered defensively very very well. You got to realize that he is doing a good job with his length. Deyonta is doing a hell of a job. Good job by Deyonta and a good job by our entire team.”
The crowd certainly helped Davis. All night they chanted Nigel over and over rattling the fine young man. It wasn’t disrespect. Never vulgar the Izzone showed the rest of the nation how to be a game impacting student section while remaining G rated.
Badger head coach Greg Gard said of the crowd after that, “One of the better environments in college basketball, but I didn’t see any of those people make plays. It was the guys in the white jerseys (Spartans) that impacted us.”
How amazing were the Spartans tonight? Think about this stunning fact. MSU had 20 assists on 26 baskets. What is even more amazing? The Badgers only had 20 field goals. You read that right; MSU had as many assists as Wisconsin had buckets.
A stat that Coach Gard said, “They were really dialed in from the start. Early we dug ourselves a hole that we couldn’t get out of. When you have 45, Denzel, he has half of their assists. He makes them so much better with the way he plays. Obvious he is healthy now, playing at a high level. I thought for the most part we did a decent job on him. He is a tough one. How Denzel is able to operate that team at his size is a credit to him and how unselfish he is and he
Izzo said of that amazing statistic that, “Last time it was off the charts too. Everybody gets defined by something. This team you could go with three pint shooting, but the best footprint is the unselfishness of this team. They almost average more assists per game than we have ever had.”
Izzo also added of the game, “A big win against a very good team. They are playing so much better. We won a game like you need to win a game at the end of the year. Our defense was unbelievable at times.”
Denzel Valentine did his usual Superman impersonation. He had 24 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists. Bryn Forbes had 17 points and Eron Harris added 10 to round out the Spartans double digit scores.
The Spartans shot 46% from the field and 47% from three. They also took care of the boards outrebounding the Badgers 38-31. The Spartans led in fast break points 13-2 and led in the turnover margin 12-9. The Spartans performance was do epic that Wisconsin never led and the game was tied for only 14 seconds of the 40 minute game. Izzo played 14 players.
The Spartans improved their record on the year to 22-5 (9-5). The Spartans return to action next Tuesday at 9PM in Columbus to take on the Ohio State Badgers. That game can be seen on ESPN.