Ethan Happ scored with 10 seconds left to give Wisconsin a 77-76 victory over Michigan State



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MADISON, Wisconsin — Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has seen a lot in his decades of coaching.

Shooting a better percentage from the field and beyond the 3-point line while outrebounding the home team and still losing isn't on the list.

But No. 4 Michigan State did all three of those things on Sunday against Wisconsin only to lose as Ethan Happ scored underneath in the final 10 seconds to give the Badgers a 77-76 victory.

"It's one of the strangest games I ever coached in," Izzo said.

For Wisconsin, it was finally a breakthrough moment after a series of close losses. Coming into Sunday, the Badgers had dropped four Big Ten games by an average of less than four points.

"We were just a little bit better in each possession," said interim coach Greg Gard, who won his first game against a ranked team since taking over last month. "Did we play any differently? No. We were still trying to do the same things. But we were a little bit better in how we executed at certain times."

The Badgers (10-9, 2-4) looked on the verge of letting another one slip away after Denzel Valentine hit a runner to put the Spartans (16-3, 3-3) up 76-72. The Badgers may have faltered in the clutch before, but this time they delivered.

Bronson Koenig, who scored a team-high 27 points, hit a 3-pointer with Valentine in his face that pulled Wisconsin within 76-75 with 27 seconds left.

The Badgers then went to a full-court press for the first time in the game, forcing a turnover as Eron Harris stepped out of bounds while double-teamed.

Koenig found Happ underneath the basket. The 6-foot-9 forward briefly bobbled the ball in heavy traffic, spun out from underneath the hoop and hit the winning shot.

The Spartans had a final chance to win, but Valentine missed a 3-pointer and Matt Costello's last-second side jumper bounced off the rim.

Happ scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Nigel Hayes added 25 points for the Badgers.

Valentine, who led Michigan State with 23 points, said the Spartans had some miscommunication problems in key moments down the stretch and he needs to do a better job of taking over the team in moments like those.

Costello added 18 points.

"We just gave up a lot of stupid things that we can't do if we want to win games in the Big Ten," Valentine said.

While Wisconsin was outshot by Michigan State from the field, the Badgers had a big advantage at the free throw line in a game where 43 fouls were called, 28 on the Spartans.

Wisconsin, which was already in the double bonus with more than 7 minutes left in the second half, ended up 29 of 36 from the line while Michigan State was 12 of 16.

Izzo said he was not going to complain about the fouls, pointing instead to his team's failure to execute. For example, he said the ball was supposed to go to Valentine rather than Harris when Wisconsin pressed and caused the late turnover, while Michigan State also failed to rotate properly as Happ got open for the winning shot.

"It was hard to play," Izzo said of the fouls called. "But that had nothing to do with missing the five or six layups we missed. Layups. Hard to condemn anything else or anyone else."

TIP-INS

Michigan State: Izzo shook up the starting lineup after Thursday's 76-59 loss to Iowa and point guard Tum Tum Nairn out with a foot injury. Matt McQuaid started for Nairn, with fellow freshmen Harris and Deyonta Davis replacing Bryn Forbes and Gavin Schilling, who had started the previous four games. Schilling entered the game less than 2 minutes in and finished with two points, while Forbes saw his first action a little more than 3 minutes into the game and scored 12. ... Izzo said Nairn is dealing with plantar fasciitis and has he has no timeline for the point guard's return

Wisconsin: The Badgers can only hope Sunday's win sparks them like the last time they were .500 in January and faced Michigan State. That season, Bo Ryan's first at the helm, Wisconsin beat then-No. 25 Michigan State on the road as the Badgers won 10 of 13 to grab a share of the Big Ten title.

UP NEXT

Michigan State hosts Nebraska on Wednesday.

Wisconsin travels to Penn State on Thursday.

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