Bingham’s double-double leads Spartans to upset win over Wisconsin in Big Ten Tournament


MSU forward Marcus Bingham Jr. celebrates as the Spartans knock off No. 12 Michigan on Jan. 5, 2020/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Trent Balley, Sports Editor

INDIANAPOLIS – The No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers, who won a share of the Big Ten regular season title, made their Big Ten Tournament debut Friday night against the Michigan State Spartans. Each team won its road matchup with the other during the regular season, and Gainbridge Fieldhouse found itself serving as the neutral site for the rubber match. The hungrier team in the Spartans came away with a gritty 69-63 victory despite having forwards Gabe Brown and Malik Hall combine for only six points.

With the win, the Spartans improved to 22-11 on the season. It was MSU’s second win over Wisconsin this season, following the Spartans’ 86-74 road win over the Badgers on Jan. 21.

The story of the first half had to be DEFENSE. Both teams were locked in on the defensive end of the floor, with each team holding the opponent to only seven made shots before halftime. The Badgers and Spartans also combined for zero 3-pointers made on 11 attempts, as the Spartans slugged their way to a 24-22 halftime lead.

The Spartans’ center play is what won them the half. Marcus Bingham Jr. and Julius Marble II combined for 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in the first half. Marble also drew a pair of charges.

MSU forward Julius Marble throws down a dunk during the Spartans’ 68-65 win over No. 4 Purdue on Feb. 26, 2022/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Wisconsin wing Johnny Davis, who was awarded this season’s Big Ten Player of the Year award, was held scoreless until the 2:27 mark in the half, where he converted two free throws. The 20-points-per-game scorer went to the locker room shooting just 1-for-10 from the field with just four points. The Badgers turned to senior Brad Davison on offense, who scored 10 points to lead all scorers at halftime.

Perhaps one of the bigger reasons behind Davis’ struggles was MSU’s defensive game plan, as the Spartans seemed to be throwing several different looks Davis’ way. Max Christie, Gabe Brown, A.J. Hoggard and Jaden Akins all took turns guarding Davis in the first half.

The first 3-pointer of the game finally came at the 16:41 mark when Wisconsin’s Steven Crowl knocked one down from the top of the arc. Nearly a minute later, Davis gave the Badgers their first lead of the night, 32-30 thanks to a converted and-one finish under the hoop.

A corner three from Davison over the long, outstretched wingspan of Bingham dropped in thanks to a friendly bounce, and Wisconsin took its largest lead of the game at 40-36.

MSU forward Marcus Bingham Jr. attempts an open jumper during the Spartans’ 69-63 win over No. 12 Wisconsin in the 2022 Big Ten tournament quarterfinal round/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

That’s when Bingham swung right back with some haymakers. The senior scored the Spartans’ next 11 points, kickstarting a run that would put them ahead 50-44 after Joey Hauser knocked down their first three of the contest. Wisconsin coach Greg Gard then called a timeout with 7:15 to play.

Out of the timeout, the Badgers turned the ball right over, and Hauser took advantage with a made mid-range jumper. Davison answered with threes on back-to-back Badger possessions from the same exact spot.

After a Bingham hook shot, Chucky Hepburn hit a right-corner three to knot the game at 58 with 1:45 to play. Izzo called a timeout to coach his guys through the final stretch.

And boy, did it pay off.

The final moments of the game were a chess match, no doubt. After Walker hit a spin-move floater followed by a mid-range jumper to go up 62-58 with under a minute to play, Gard called timeout to draw up a play.

The ball went to Davis, who took it to the rim, but Christie was there for the contest. Davis missed, and now the Badgers were forced to play the foul game.

Walker missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to leave the door open, and Davison made an and-one layup on the other end. He missed the free throw, however, and then intentionally fouled Christie. Unfortunately for the Badgers, that was Davison’s fifth foul, and he took a seat with 23 points.

Christie made both free throws to make it 65-60 Spartans, but Hepburn made it interesting yet again with a pull-up three with 16 seconds to make it a two-point game again. The Badgers had to foul again, though, and it was Walker stepping to the line to redeem himself. He did so, the Spartans hit their free throws when it really mattered, and they gladly took the win.

MSU forward Max Christie throws down a transition dunk during the Spartans’ 68-65 win over Purdue on Feb. 26, 2022/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Davis finished with 11 points on a dismal 3-for-19 shooting. For the Spartans, Bingham posted 19 points (which tied a career high), 11 rebounds and three blocks. Walker scored 11 points with seven assists. Hauser also scored nine points, while Marble, Hoggard and Christie each finished with eight points apiece. Hoggard also chipped in with four assists and four rebounds.

The Spartans advance to the semifinals and will take on the winner of the Purdue vs. Penn State matchup.

You can follow Trent Balley on Twitter at @TrentBalley.