Madison, WI — Whatever Nigel Hayes said to his team on Tuesday night after Wisconsin’s 70-65 loss worked today, as Wisconsin pulled off the 77-76 upset over #4 Michigan State behind Hayes’s 25 points and Bronson Koenig’s career-high 27.

“I think the young coach out-coached the old coach,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said after the game.

Wisconsin showed up in the first half attacking the rim, getting Michigan State in foul trouble early on. The Badgers went 16-19 from the free throw line, including Ethan Happ going 7-9. On defense, Michigan State was getting everything they wanted on the Badgers in the paint and on the glass, scoring 14 points in the paint and out-rebounding Wisconsin 19-13. Koenig, who entered the game averaging 13.6 points per game, scored 15 in the first half. Hayes added 12 for the Badgers, but was not even a part of Wisconsin’s 10-0 run over the last 2:51 to finish the half.

“Koenig is a Spartan killer,” Izzo remarked, considering his performance  today and in the Big Ten Championship last season.

Michigan State started the second half on a 12-2 run, in part due to poor transition defense by the Badgers. It was a half of runs, but Koenig and Hayes led the Badgers back into the game with a 13-3 run mid-way through the half, giving the Badgers their largest lead of 6 at 62-56. Denzel Valentine and Matt Costello kept the Spartans in the game in the second half, and Michigan State went up four points with 1:53 remaining. Koenig hit a three-pointer off a timeout to narrow the lead to 76-75 with 26.8 seconds left. Wisconsin was able to force a turnover, led by Khalil Iverson, to get the ball back. Ethan Happ, who had 14 points and 8 rebounds, scored a game-winning layup with 10 seconds left, and Wisconsin upset #4 Michigan State.

Michigan State’s starting point guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn, Jr. sat out with a foot injury, which shook up the Spartans starting lineup. Freshmen Matt McQuaid and Deyonta Davis started their first career games, and Nairn’s absence in the second half really hurt the Spartans down the stretch.

The Badgers were able to draw 28 fouls from the Spartans and converted from the foul line today, making 29 of 36 free throws, good for 81%. Wisconsin was in the bonus early and often, and that was the difference in the game. It was a big win for Bucky on Sunday to move to 10-9 and get a big win for the resume.

“[I’m] happy for our guys; happy for our fans,” Wisconsin interim head coach Greg Gard said after the game.

Wisconsin will take on Penn State on Thursday at 7:00 PM on the road to start a five-game stretch with very winnable games that could get the team really going.

Photo: Andy Manis (Associated Press)