for this game

Neitzel sparks Michigan State upset of Wisconsin

Feb 21, 2007 - 6:34 AM EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- Drew Neitzel and Michigan State may have punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament by punching out Wisconsin.

Neitzel scored 28 points, including 11 in a row during a game-breaking run, to lift the Spartans to a 64-55 Big Ten Conference victory over the second-ranked Badgers.

Michigan State (20-8, 7-6 Big Ten) used a 17-2 surge over the final seven minutes to win its third straight game while snapping Wisconsin's five-game winning streak.

Junior guard Neitzel was the catalyst. With the Spartans trailing, 49-45, with just over seven minutes to play, Neitzel hit three 3-pointers and scored all his team's points in an 11-2 run to push Michigan State into a 56-51 lead with 2:19 to go.

"This is unbelievable. This is the best win that I've had at Michigan State, other than that Kentucky win going to the Final Four," Neitzel said. "We just kept battling. They played a great game. The first half they knocked down shots.

"Alando Tucker, our game plan was to sag off him a little bit and make him beat us from the perimeter and he did that in the first half; that's why he's one of the best players in the country. We stuck with our game plan and it worked out."

The Spartans' defense turned in a suffocating second-half performance, limiting Wisconsin (26-3, 12-2) to just one field goal over 6 1/2 minutes and holding Wooden Award candidate Tucker to just two points after the intermission.

"I think for some reason Alando just didn't look to attack the rim the way he normally does." Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. "He doesn't shoot a free throw, not because he was hacked and it wasn't called at all, it's just he wasn't in the attack mode."

Tucker had torched Michigan State with 14 first-half points, making four shots from the arc, but he was just 1-of-7 overall in the second half.

"Tucker you can't cover by yourself," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I still think, even though he didn't have a great second half, I still think this kid is the player of the year, maybe in the country. If you see him on film, you say, 'How does he do what he does?'"

Neitzel finished 10-of-17 from the floor, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range.

"He just caught fire and it's hard to stop a guy when he's putting up difficult shots and they're still going in," Wisconsin guard Kammron Taylor said of Neitzel. "He was hot and unfortunately for us, he stayed hot for the entire game, so give credit for what they did."

Travis Walton added 13 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds and Raymar Morgan scored 12 as the Spartans shot 50 percent (11-of-22) in the second half.

"Travis Walton, after a slow start, was unbelievable - he almost got a triple-double," Izzo said. "And with our role players, our rebounding was phenomenal."

Indeed, Michigan State overpowered Wisconsin on the glass, 41-24, leading to 16 second-chance points.

Marcus Landry scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half for Wisconsin, which entered as just one of three teams in the nation (Pittsburgh, Nevada) with one road loss.

"I knew that they were pretty active," Ryan said. "There were times where we had a chance to grab them and we didn't. I think we can do a much better job of that the next game, the next time we play them, the next game, period."