Joey Hauser's holiday extravaganza not enough as Wisconsin drops MSU, 85-76
It came down to the player Tom Izzo wanted, and the player he didn't.
And the one he didn't, D'Mitrick Trice, was the difference, the brother of former Michigan State guard Travis Trice scoring 27 including his team's first 13 in the second half as No. 9 Wisconsin beat No. 12 Michigan State, 85-76, in a holiday hoopfest in East Lansing.
Michigan State (6-2, 0-2 Big Ten) opened the second half on a 9-0 run — it was 12-0 going back to the final seconds of the first half, when Foster Loyer hit a 3 to tie it — only to watch Trice single-handedly carry his team back, from inside and outside. At one point in the second half, he had scored 13 points and Michigan State had scored 14.
"That shows you how bad a recruiter I am," said the always self-deprecating Izzo, who pointed out he remains friends with Travis and D'Mitrick's parents, Travis and Julie. "He was the difference, not just because of the points he scored, but the way he did it, the way he calmed his team down.
"I don't want to make him out to be Michael Jordan. As far as running the team, making plays, he's as good as there is in this league, maybe as good as there is in the country."
Trice's effort outshined that of Michigan State's Joey Hauser, the Wisconsin native who Wisconsin recruited twice, first out of high school, then out of Marquette.
Trice's performance, on 7-for-14 shooting, including 4-for-7 on 3's, also came as Travis watched the action from the stands. This was the first Michigan State game this season family members were allowed to attend.
"He's a great player," Hauser said of Trice. "He can shoot it. He had a great day, but we've gotta slow a guy like that down.
"They're one of the best teams in our league and in the country right now. We were in there for most of the game. I didn't think we played exceptionally well.
"It was disappointing. But we're gonna be ready for the next game."
Hauser, the Stevens Point, Wisconsin, native whose status was in doubt early in the week after banging knees with a Northwestern player, was nearly flawless, scoring a career-best 27 on 8-for-10 shooting, 3-for-3 on 3's and 10-for-11 on free throws.
One of those 3-pointers came with 9:08 left, after Hauser took a charge on the other end, giving the Spartans a 61-57 lead. He didn't miss his first shot until 7:15 left.
Hauser's three-point play with 52 seconds left made it a 78-74 game, and two free throws with 29 seconds left made it 80-76 (he was 10-for-11 on free throws), but in the end, too many turnovers (14) led to too many Wisconsin points (24). With Michigan State trailing by five with 15 seconds remaining, Hauser sipped and turned it over, sealing the Spartans' fate. That was Hauser's only turnover of the game.
Aaron Henry had seven of the turnovers.
"You can't turn the ball over for touchdowns," Izzo said. "And we did some of that."
Wisconsin had seven steals.
"Those are things we've gotta clean up," Hauser said.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin had just seven turnovers, and just three in the last 35 minutes.
The Badgers also took over in the paint down the stretch, while the Spartans missed too many layups. Aleem Ford scored 13 and Micah Potter and Brad Davision 11 each. Wisconsin got the free-throw line 30 times to Michigan State's 16, and made 23 of them.
Michigan State was plus-eight with Hauser, who also led Michigan State with seven rebounds, on the court; the next-best players were plus-1, including Thomas Kithier, who had five rebounds (four offensive) and eight points in 18 minutes — increased playing time at the suggestion of associate head coach Dwayne Stephens.
Henry had 12 points and six rebounds. Rocket Watts had a career-best seven assists.
It was the second straight loss for Michigan State, coming off the Northwestern defeat, though the effort Friday was undeniably better and more inspired than last time out.
"I saw a million strides today, a million strides," Izzo said. "We played good enough to win in some ways, and bad enough to lose in other ways."
And, so, the Spartans are 0-2 in Big Ten play for the fifth time in Izzo's tenure — and they finished .500 in league play three of the four previous times.
Wisconsin (7-1, 2-0), meanwhile, won its first game at Breslin Center since 2004, snapping a 12-game skid. It's tied with Northwestern for the Big Ten lead.
This was the first Christmas Day game for both programs, and appropriately kicked off the Big Ten's slate of four Christmas Day games — with green and red uniforms.