Surging No. 10 Michigan State seeks to end an eight-game losing streak at the Kohl Center on Tuesday night against No. 18 Wisconsin, which is coming off a rare home loss in Big Ten play.
On the same day the Spartans (13-2, 2-0) held off pesky Nebraska 68-55 on the road for its 13th straight victory, the Badgers (12-3, 1-1) had their 28-game home winning streak against unranked opponents snapped when they fell 72-65 to Iowa on Saturday.
Wisconsin, 78-7 at home in conference play under Ryan since he was hired prior to the 2001-02 season, shot 34.8 percent and set a season worst for points allowed.
The Badgers came into the game shooting 46.0 percent. Despite the uncharacteristic performance Saturday, they still lead the nation allowing 46.2 points per game.
“If you hit shots, it’s amazing how much better your defense looks,” Ryan said after his team had its six-game winning streak snapped.
Ryan anticipates a difficult conference schedule this season, as the Big Ten’s five ranked teams are tied with the Big East for most in the nation.
“I guess the Big Ten’s going to be like this the whole year,” he said. “I just think there’s so many teams that are kind of equal, and if you have a cold night, you’re not going to walk away on the left-hand side (of the final score).”
That hasn’t been a problem for Michigan State lately.
The Spartans followed up their 80-65 win over then-No. 13 Indiana on Wednesday by outrebounding the Cornhuskers 38-24 and shooting 19 of 21 from the free throw line. They’re on their longest winning streak since the 1998-99 team won 22 straight and they’ve won each of their three true road games.
Draymond Green scored 19 points and Keith Appling 14 for Michigan State, which coach Tom Izzo believes still can play better.
“We dealt with adversity three or four times, withstood it and I thought we did execute once they cut that 15-point lead (in the second half) down and Appling made some plays,” said Izzo, whose Spartans are sixth in the nation with a plus-10.5 rebound differential per game. “Sad to say, we didn’t play real well. I think they had something to do with it. I was not disappointed in our effort. I was disappointed in our execution at times.”
Green said dealing with that adversity falls on him.
“It (was) our first Big Ten road game,” Green said. “Guys didn’t know what to expect. That’s my job, to pick games up, to help pick those guys up.”
The Spartans’ three-year captain couldn’t do much to prevent Michigan State’s eighth consecutive loss at the Kohl Center on Feb. 6, being held to 13 points while Appling scored six in an 82-56 defeat.
Six of those eight defeats have come by double digits, with the Spartans last winning 51-47 on Feb. 27, 2001.
Izzo is 6-13 including conference tournament play against Wisconsin since Ryan arrived - the only Big Ten team Izzo has a losing record against in that span.
Jordan Taylor, who scored a then-career-high 30 points in that last meeting against Michigan State, had 17 points in the loss to Iowa and is averaging a team-best 12.7 points.
Green leads the Spartans with averages of 15.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks.