March 16, 2019 / 7:34 PM / 5 months ago

No. 6 Michigan State tops No. 19 Wisconsin, reaches Big Ten final

EditorsNote: Updates with Michigan as opponent in Sunday’s final

Mar 16, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Wisconsin Badgers mascot "Bucky Badger" performs during the first half in the Big Ten conference tournament at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Cassius Winston scored a game-high 21 points and dished out six assists Saturday despite an ankle injury as No. 6 Michigan State led wire-to-wire in a 67-55 defeat of No. 19 Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament in Chicago.

Kenny Goins added a 13-point, 12-rebound double-double for the top-seeded Spartans (27-6), who will meet rival Michigan on Sunday for the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Xavier Tillman chipped in 17 points.

Ethan Happ scored 20 points to pace the fourth-seeded Badgers (23-10), who are expected to earn an at-large berth when the NCAA field is announced Sunday. Kobe King added 13, but Wisconsin couldn’t make enough shots to wipe out a 17-point first half deficit.

The Badgers converted just 35.3 percent of their field goals, including a pitiful 2 of 19 from the 3-point line. Wisconsin endured a scoring drought of more than seven minutes late in the second half, missing nine straight shots during that span.

Michigan State owned the glass with a 44-30 rebounding edge with Aaron Henry grabbing 11. The Badgers managed just 10 offensive rebounds on 44 available misses.

Beginning with a 3-pointer by Goins 22 seconds into the game, Michigan State established its lead from the start. It scored the first eight points and solved Wisconsin’s usually tough defense early on.

When Tillman converted a 3-point play with 7:42 left in the first half, the Spartans owned a 27-10 lead.

The Badgers made their first serious run late in the half as King’s layup at the 3:39 mark pulled Wisconsin within 29-20, finishing a 10-2 run.

A 3-pointer by D’Mitrik Trice with 24 seconds remaining enabled the Badgers to go into intermission trailing just 35-27, even though they were outrebounded 22-12 and allowed Michigan State to hit 7 of 12 from distance.

Winston injured his left ankle when he accidentally kicked a Wisconsin player with about four minutes left in the first half. He wound up playing 28 minutes and hitting 9 of 17 shots.

—Field Level Media

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