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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 15, 2024

Wisconsin Basketball celebrates a clean sweep against Michigan State

Storr spears through Michigan State

Wisconsin guard AJ Storr scored 28 points — one point short of his season high — as he rallied the Badgers past the Spartans.

Strong defense and a stellar offensive performance from AJ Storr propelled the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team past the Michigan State Spartans in a dominant 81-66 victory Friday at the Kohl Center.

After a historic, nail-biting road victory Tuesday against the Minnesota Golden Gophers where Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard got his 100th Big Ten conference win, the Badgers looked to continue their dominant play against the Spartans. 

The last time these two teams faced each other was Dec. 5 in East Lansing, where the Badgers won by 13 points behind Storr’s 22-point performance. 

Wisconsin followed the same script Friday, as Storr found success early in the first half and scored seven of the Badgers’ first 10 points. He finished the first half with 12 points. 

However, Chucky Hepburn flipped the Spartans’ script with his lockdown defense on Tyson Walker. Michigan State’s offensive game plan revolves around Walker’s prolific scoring off pick-and-roll and isolation plays. Walker came into this matchup leading the Spartans in points per game with 19.7.

Hepburn, who was Walker's primary defender,  contested every shot Walker attempted and prevented him from driving past him or getting open 3-point shots off of pick-and-roll plays. Hepburn held Walker to just four points in the first half on seven field-goal attempts, and Walker finished the game with 11 points in 33 minutes.

Wisconsin went into halftime with a nine-point lead after leading by as much as 12 points in the first half. 

Michigan State guard A.J. Hoggard, who led the Spartans in scoring with 19 points, and forward Malik Hall kept Michigan State in the game at the beginning of the second half, but Storr had different plans.

Storr scored 11 straight points in the first five minutes of the second half. Wisconsin dominated the Spartans for the remainder of the half, a triumph perfectly summarized by a high off-the-glass and-1 layup from Badgers guard Max Klesmit. 

In a postgame interview with Fox Sports, Gard said this year’s team is deep and that he is able to rely more on the bench unit to give the starters a rest. 

“I’ve got a deep bench,” Gard said. “I can go 10, 11, 12 [players] deep and not have a lot of dropoff.”

Now on a three-game winning streak, Wisconsin moves to 16-4 overall and 8-1 in conference play. The Badgers will head westbound Thursday to take on Keisei Tominaga and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. 

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