MADISON, Wis. -- Considering some of the shots Wisconsin was hitting, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo[db] joked it must have been divine intervention from the cheesehead gods.
But, he added [db]Jorday Taylor of the Badgers was simply dominating.
Taylor scored 30 points to lead Wisconsin (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) in an 82-56 pounding of Michigan State on Sunday, the Spartans' fifth loss in six games. It was Michigan State's second-worst loss in Big Ten play in the past 15 seasons. During that span, only a 30-point loss at Illinois in 2003 was worse.
It was just short of the Spartans' worst loss ever to the Badgers, a 27-point defeat in 1972, and comes on the heels of a 20-point loss to last-place Iowa.
"I think he played like one of the best guards in the country, not in the Big Ten, today," Izzo said.
Izzo and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan both insisted the Spartans (13-10, 5-6) did all the right things on defense Sunday. But it didn't show up in the box score. The Badgers shot 59 percent from the field, including 11 of 17 from 3-point range [including 10 of its first 13], making Wisconsin just the latest Spartan opponent to become suddenly white hot when facing MSU.
The Badgers (17-5, 7-3) didn't just torch Michigan State on open looks, either. At times it seemed like a barrage of 3-pointers as the shot clock expired or difficult layups in traffic that rolled around the rim and in.
"Let's be honest. I don't know if you want to rely on a couple of those shots that we made all of the time," Ryan said.
"I just told my team that the defense wasn't as bad as the score indicated and I don't know if I'm losing perspective," Izzo said. "Taylor hit four of them by himself and one when DayDay was on him and it was contested, and they made some shots. Our defense was a lot better than it was against Iowa, and yet the score doesn't look like it."
Wisconsin was in control of Sunday's game from the start and never let up. The Badgers led 43-25 at halftime and were up by as many as 33 points in the second half as Taylor hit 9 of 13 from the field and 9 of 10 from the free throw line.
"I have not seen on film like what I saw tonight but if he makes those shots he is an NBA player right now," Izzo said. "His strength really helped him. He made some incredible acrobatic shots, he hit some late 3s. There were very few shots he hit that weren't tough shots, but give him credit, he made them.
"I just couldn't believe some of the shots they made. It was unbelievable, and yet, as our players said in the locker room, we have to figure out a way now to stop shots. We played better defensively in some ways and now we have to stop shots no matter what we do, we have to stop shots.
Wisconsin's Jon Leuer, who was held to 10 points in the Jan. 11 game at Michigan State, had 20 points and six rebounds on Sunday.
"You say 'Man, where's the defense?' or 'Where's the effort on defense?' " said Michigan State's Draymond Green, who finished with 13 points. "But all the shots were contested. ... Some of the shots they hit, it was just unbelievable."
Kalin Lucas[db] led Michigan State with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting. [db]Durrell Summers had another cold shooting performance, going 3-of-12 from the field and 0-for-2 from 3-point range, for 7 points.
"I thought Kalin played awfully well," Izzo said. "We played him almost the whole game. We just missed some shots and still shot decent the first half but they just made every shot they threw up."
Izzo started Derrick Nix over Delvon Roe after the sophomore came off the bench against Iowa to score 12 points in 12 minutes. But early in the first half Nix was called for a foul 25 feet from the basket and followed that by failing to close out on Keaton Nankivil as he hit a 3. Izzo put Roe in the game less than 3 minutes in.
Roe and Nix were both held scoreless.
Izzo said he made the change in part due to Wisconsin's personnel. But he also said Roe has been struggling with his knee and his balance. He's also been limited in his practice time.
"He's not the same guy that there was two weeks ago," Izzo said.
"They hit some shots, that's all I can say," Izzo added, "and we're just going to keep battling along and see if we can get back on the winning track, and go from there."