9:00 PM ET, February 2, 2010
Kohl Center, Madison, WI
Michigan State is sitting comfortably atop the Big Ten standings, mostly because it's found ways to win on the road. Wisconsin, however, is one place where victories have been hard to come in by recent years for the league's only unbeaten team.To extend the best conference start in school history, the fifth-ranked Spartans must avoid a seventh straight loss in Madison when they face the No. 16 Badgers on Tuesday night.Michigan State (19-2, 9-0) has won 12 of 13 conference road games since the start of the 2008-09 season. Though it hasn't always been easy, the Spartans have managed to hold their own in some of the toughest environments the Big Ten has to offer.Leading scorer Kalin Lucas (16.0 points per game) has been the difference in the Spartans' last two road wins. The reigning Big Ten player of the year hit the go-ahead basket with 3.5 seconds left to give Michigan State a 57-56 win at rival Michigan on Jan 26, three days after he hit a 3-pointer with 1:27 remaining to put his team up for good in a 65-64 victory at Minnesota.The Spartans will likely need Lucas -- averaging 17.3 points on 51.0 percent shooting in Big Ten road games -- and the rest of their deep, talented roster to be at their best Tuesday."Wisconsin always plays us tough," said current Big Ten player of the week Durrell Summers, who's been held scoreless in three of his four career games against Wisconsin. "I haven't won up there."Neither have any of his teammates.Though Michigan State has won the last two meetings in the series and didn't face the Badgers on the road last season, the Spartans haven't won at the Kohl Center since a 51-47 victory Feb. 27, 2001.Ending the six-game skid there will likely remain a stiff challenge considering Wisconsin (16-5, 6-3) has won 17 in a row in Madison and the home team has won the last nine games played in this series. The Badgers have also won five consecutive home games against ranked opponents.This contest begins a daunting three-game stretch in which Michigan State faces three of the four teams tied for second place in the league. After Wisconsin, the Spartans visit Illinois on Saturday, then host No. 8 Purdue on Feb. 9."I can't think of a tougher three-game stretch," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. "We could play awfully well and lose all three and all the sudden, it's a different story."This Michigan State team must find a way to play better offensively than Izzo's teams of the past have performed at Wisconsin. Michigan State has made 42.4 percent of its shots while averaging 55.2 points during its six-game losing streak at Kohl.Opponents are shooting 38.7 percent and averaging 53.1 points in Wisconsin's 12 home games this season. The Badgers held the Spartans to 38.1 percent shooting in East Lansing on Jan. 6, but shot 33.3 percent themselves en route to a 54-47 defeat.Summers was held scoreless in that contest, but had 24 points and 10 boards in Michigan State's 79-70 win over Northwestern on Saturday."When he focuses on the task at hand, I think he's one of the best players in this league and in the country," Izzo said of the junior guard, who's averaging 17.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in his last two games.Wisconsin star guard Trevon Hughes was held to a season-low seven points on 3-of-13 shooting at Michigan State last month, continuing his career-long struggles in this series. The senior is averaging 5.4 points on 25.0 percent shooting in seven career games against the Spartans, but is averaging 18.0 points in four conference home games this season.Keaton Nankivil had a season-high 25 points while Hughes was held to nine and missed a contested runner in the closing seconds of Wisconsin's 60-57 loss at Purdue on Thursday.
|Avg Points Allowed||63.7||56.2|
|Conference||Big Ten||Big Ten|