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Saturday, March 02, 2024
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Wisconsin men’s basketball prevails over Big Ten rival Michigan State

The Badgers men’s basketball team extended their win streak to six games with their 70-57 victory over the Spartans.

No. 23 Wisconsin men’s basketball defeated the Michigan State Spartans 70-57 Tuesday at the Breslin Center after Wisconsin guard AJ Storr and forward Steven Crowl scored a combined 40 points.

After the Badgers defeated No. 3 Marquette on Dec. 2, Wisconsin finally entered the Associated Press Top 25 men’s basketball rankings on Monday. 

In their first game as a ranked team, the Badgers started the first half strong and shot efficiently from the field and 3-point range. Wisconsin made three straight 3-point shots in the first three minutes of the game — Crowl made two of them.

Crowl made all three of his first half 3-point attempts and scored 11 points by halftime. He struggled in the paint against the Michigan State interior defense, so he resorted to the 3-point line where the defenders sagged off of him. 

Storr also caught the Spartans’ defenders off guard with his 12 points and perfect shooting in the first half. Unlike Crowl, Storr had free reign on the court and made all his shots from the field and the free-throw line. 

Wisconsin’s defense locked down the perimeter and only allowed one made 3-point attempt from Michigan State. The Badgers forced the Spartans into uncomfortable isolation situations and made Michigan State turn the ball over seven times when they only had four assists in the first half.

Wisconsin cruised into the second half with a 11-point lead but the path to the finish line was more rocky than the Badgers anticipated.

Michigan State guard Tyson Walker found greater success on the offensive end in the second half than he had in the first half. Walker’s 18 points in the second half and prolific 3-point shooting led the Spartans to get as close as three points to the Badgers. However, this was the closest Michigan State got to Wisconsin.

Storr responded with 10 second-half points of his own that silenced the Breslin Center — he made back-to-back 3-point shots from a couple of feet beyond the 3-point line. Soon after, he iced the game with a second-chance layup off of a offensive rebound by Badgers’ guard Chucky Hepburn with five minutes left in the game. 

Storr finished the game with 22 points and four made 3-point shots, making this his fourth-straight game that he’s scored in double digits and his seventh overall for the season.

However, Storr’s improvement over the season hasn’t gone unnoticed — in the press-game conference Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard had high praise for his starting guard.

“He’s grown as much as anybody over the last four to six weeks at both ends of the floor,” Gard said.

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The Badgers are now 7-2 overall on the season and officially undefeated in Big Ten play. Wisconsin’s next opponent is No. 1 Arizona Wildcats, where the Badgers look to dethrone them from their top spot on Saturday in Tucson.

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