George Marshall stepped to the free throw line with 3.5 seconds remaining Tuesday night at the Kohl Center, and what occurred next was somewhat predictable if you follow the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team.

The redshirt freshman point guard missed the first one. After two timeouts, he missed the rim entirely while trying to intentionally miss the second attempt.

It’s been that kind of season from the line for coach Bo Ryan’s team, and the Badgers’ wayward shooting cost them dearly late in a 49-47 loss to No. 13 Michigan State in a tightly contested Big Ten Conference game.

Junior guard Keith Appling had 19 points and sophomore swingman Branden Dawson added 18 points and 13 rebounds for the first-place Spartans (17-3, 6-1 Big Ten), who survived what Michigan State coach Tom Izzo called a “tough, tough game” in which his team’s biggest lead was four points.

It was a tough defeat for the Badgers (13-6, 4-2) to swallow because they shot 29.6 percent overall and from 3-point range, and an abysmal 38.9 from the line, including five consecutive misses over the final 5 minutes, 23 seconds.

“We’ve got to get in the gym and just start knocking them down,” said UW senior forward Mike Bruesewitz, who led the Badgers with 10 points. “Plain and simple, it can’t be an excuse anymore.”

The Badgers, who shot 81.8 percent from the free throw line two seasons ago and 73.9 percent a year ago, are shooting a head-scratching 52.1 percent from the line (50-for-96) in Big Ten play.

That dropoff — UW is at 61.1 percent from the line for the season — is something Ryan has a difficult time explaining.

“I can’t shoot ’em,” he said after UW lost to Michigan State for the fourth consecutive time. “It’s a craft. You get good at something. And we’ve got guys who are pretty good free throw shooters who aren’t making free throws.”

Ryan says he’s been happy with UW’s free throw shooting during practice, but those results haven’t carried over to the games for the most part.

“Still nothing like the game,” Ryan said. “It’s always easy for people on the outside looking in with free throws, until you’ve been there. And it’s something about what you’ve got inside, physically and mentally.”

Even with its free throw struggles, UW had a chance to win the game thanks to a 3-pointer from an unlikely source. It came from senior forward Ryan Evans, who was 1-for-11 from the field to that point and 1-for-19 from beyond the arc on the season, with 16.7 seconds remaining to cut the Spartans’ lead to 48-47.

Freshman guard Gary Harris made a free throw to give Michigan State a two-point lead with 15.3 seconds left but missed the second attempt, giving UW a chance to send the game to overtime or win it in regulation.

Ryan instructed Marshall to drive to the rim and get a shot on his own or find an open teammate. Marshall drew a foul and headed to the line to shoot two free throws.

He had made nine of his 12 attempts this season but was long on the first attempt. After a timeout in which he was instructed to miss the second attempt in hopes UW could grab the offensive rebound and score before time ran out, Marshall’s second attempt was wide left and failed to hit the rim.

“Well, we were going to miss the second one and maybe I have to clarify: ‘George, we’re going to miss it, but you can’t miss the rim. I think maybe I needed to say that,’ ” Ryan said. “You catch the edge of the basket — everybody knows that on a missed free throw — and he just missed the edge of the basket, because then it’s up for grabs.”

Bruesewitz and senior forward Jared Berggren refused to pin the blame on Marshall for the key miss on the first attempt because there was plenty of blame to go around.

Berggren, a 75.9-percent foul shooter entering the game, took a lot of it on his shoulders after going 2-for-8 from the line.

UW made just one field goal in the last 7:41 — a span of 11 possessions — and it was Evans’ unlikely 3-pointer.

The Badgers’ only other point during that span was a free throw by sophomore guard Traevon Jackson. It was UW’s only made free throw in its final seven attempts.

Berggren missed the front end of a bonus with 5:23 left and then missed two more free throws on the next possession after Appling’s foul prevented a dunk.

“To come away empty on that possession definitely hurt us, especially when we were struggling to score,” said Berggren, who finished with nine points and failed to reach double figures for the third consecutive game. “I’ve got to be stronger with that and just go through the contact and be able to finish that.

“Since I didn’t do that, I’ve got to step up and knock down the free throws and, again, I didn’t do that. It hurts the team and especially in a game like this when we’re struggling to score down the stretch. … To get easy points like that and leave those on the board is frustrating.”

UW overcame its poor shooting with solid defense. Michigan State didn’t have a field goal over the final 6:54 and scored just two points during that stretch.

“I thought defensively we were working our butts off,” Ryan said. “That’s a good scoring team.”

Ryan’s only complaint defensively was that Jackson fouled Appling three times on jump shots, leading to nine points that included a four-point play and a three-point play.

“That might be more fouling a jump shooter than we get in a season, in one game,” Ryan said. “So we did not do a very good job of that. And Appling took advantage of it.”

Izzo said afterward that he thought the Badgers and Spartans were even teams.

That’s probably true, except in one key area Tuesday night: The Spartans were 9-for-12 from the foul line.

“I’m just proud of my guys,” Izzo said. “It wasn’t pretty, but you play a team like this, it’s not going to be. To get a win here was a big win for us.”

You might also like

(13) comments

kooler
kooler

what a bunch of goofy whiners. this game could have and should have been won if only for a few free throws. their defense was excellent. with a little better offense and average free throws these guys would be undefeated in the big 10.
will we be national champs? not this year nor likely next but after that, who knows?

madtowner
madtowner

wow where were all you after the Indiana game?? Bo Ryan is the great coach record speaks for itself. This is his 1st down year since he got here and there's a lot of season left to still make it in the dance. Far as the recruiting goes look at next years recruits to go with the young kids we got the now the future is pretty bright at Wisconsin and if you dont like become a Arkansas fan

retired
retired

What u people seem to miss is the fact that Dick Bennett style is alive and well at the Kohl center.Everything from outside, shoot and run. Ole Bo doesn't have much talent to pick from.Now that the real meat and potato's of the Big 10,show up, I think the Nit won't happen.
Beginning of the end.

GABadgerFan
GABadgerFan

We finally have a top recruit in Sam Dekker, and he doesn't get nearly the minutes that he should. The minute he makes a mistake, he sits. The same goes for any young player in Bo's system. Bo is so loyal to his upperclassmen, even if they aren't as talented as the underclassmen. I truly believe these are some of the reasons why we don't get many "big time" recruits. Dekker brings an energy on the court that is lacking with many of the other players and he isn't intimidated by anybody. Evans can make mistake after mistake and he stays on the court. I will never understand it.

hackvrod
hackvrod

Our freshmen need 2-3 years to grow as Bo would say. What a crock of crap. Watch any college game on Saturday and most teams have their top freshmen recruit on the court. Not us. Half of our scholarship guys wouldn't start for most of the mid level programs in the nation. We don't have even one go to guy to get a bucket when we need one. Most teams have 2 or 3 options. Very frustrating. Dekkers got some size but he nevers goes on the block. His touches are 20 ft from the hoop. What's up with that?

pony
pony

live by the 3 die by the 3 by shooters who can't shoot
no inside game, by anyone, that's the great swing offense, offensive

dianes0121
dianes0121

Evans plays solid defense, that is why he stays in because it's certainly not for his offense because he's very frustrating on offense. Everyone knows if you can play solid defense under Bo, you'll play and if you watch Dekker on defense he looks lost half the time. He struggled last night, he got into foul trouble with bad fouls last night in the first half and was a non factor in the 2nd half because Michigan St is too physical. I've noticed Dekker has one of the longer leashes for a freshman I've seen under Bo

badgerfan1
badgerfan1

Night in and night out the lineup of Jackson, Bergerren, Evans, Brusewitz, and Brust are not going to beat Ohio St., Mich. St., Michigan, Indiana, Ill., Minn., and Iowa. Oh I know they beat Ill. and Indiana, however in a series of 5 games with those 2 schools they would be lucky to win 2. The players I mentioned above are simply not of high enough quality to compete in the upper reaches of the Big 10. I agree that Bo Ryan gets as much as is possible out of what he has to work with but the problem is he recruits this lack of talent and there in lies the rub. There was another article written by the Madison people implying that the battle for the championship revolves around Wis. and Mich. St., well that is way overblown. First of all it does not consider Ohio St, but more importantly Izzo now has and I am afraid will continue to have the upper hand unless Ryan and his staff do a much, much better job of recruiting.

Badger5642
Badger5642

I agree 100%. Bo is a great coach, his record speaks for itself. He gets more out of marginal talent than anyone. But the question is, Why do we have marginal talent in the first place? Because he recruits like he still is at Platteville. His system is hard to watch, pass, pass ,pass, pass, all outside the 3 point line, then chuck up a 3 as the shot clock expires. What star HS player wants to come here and do that? We never set picks, we don't attack the basket, we have D2 players competing as best they can against far better athletes. Bo's whole system is to slow the game down so that you don't get blown out, and are in every game with a chance to win. It works a surprising amount of the time but no star athlete wants to come here because of it. Kind of a catch 22. These players are dreadful. Reggie Evans chokes in every big game. Why is he shooting the most with his god awful shot %?

Tbrobertson
Tbrobertson

Tom Crean stands next to his players when they practice free throws to help them and get them to shoot "under pressure". Maybe Ryan should try this, if he hasn't yet.

GABadgerFan
GABadgerFan

I don't understand how this team can win on the road at Indiana, and then completely lay an egg the last two games. The last two games they have played like they have nothing to play for.

kooler
kooler

traevon jackson needs to keep his mouth shut and comport himself better with the refs or he will never get a call. from my observations he seems to already have a bit of an "image problem" as far as the zebras are concerned.
and poor george marshall---when you can't even "make" an intentional "miss" i'd say your free throw woes are about as bad as they can be.

Acapitalidea
Acapitalidea

Michigan State tried to give the game to the Badgers but they would have no part of it. Horrible shooting all around. Slow starts are all too common.When the game could have been won, two of the Badgers' best free throw shooters were 0-6. Never seen a Bo Ryan team so pitiful at the line. More errant passes. Ryan Evans should never be the player taking the most shots on the team. Four points in the last seven and a half minutes. Hard to find anything positive in this performance.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Exchange ideas and opinions on posted articles. Don't promote products or services, impersonate other site users, register multiple accounts, threaten or harass others, post vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language. Don't post content that defames or degrades anyone. Don't repost copyrighted material; link to it. In other words, stick to the topic and play nice. Report abuses by clicking the button. Users who break the rules will be banned from commenting. We no longer issue warnings. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.