Keith Appling poured in a game-high 19 points to lead the 13th-ranked Michigan State Spartans to a 49-47 win over the Wisconsin Badgers on Tuesday.
Branden Dawson added 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Spartans (17-3, 6-1 Big Ten), who have won six straight.
"Well, it was a huge win for us against a team that has been playing really well," said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. "They run a lot of good stuff and I'm just proud of my guys. I thought they really started to believe in each other a little bit. We are getting a little bit better. 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."
Mike Bruesewitz had 10 points and seven rebounds, Jared Berggren scored nine points to go with nine boards, and Ben Brust added eight points for the Badgers (13-6, 4-2), who have dropped two straight.
A Dawson free throw with just over two minutes to go put Michigan State up 48-44. However, Wisconsin's Ryan Evans, who was 1-for-18 from 3-point range entering the contest, then buried a triple with 17 ticks showing to pull the Badgers within 48-47.
Wisconsin immediately fouled Gary Harris, who split a pair of free throws to give the Spartans a 49-47 edge with 15 seconds remaining.
Michigan State played lockdown defense on the ensuing possession, but Adreian Payne fouled George Marshall near the hoop with three seconds left to give the Badgers a chance to tie the game.
Marshall, though, missed the free throws -- including a second attempt which didn't even draw iron, to give the Spartans the ball with three seconds left.
Missed free throws were a common theme for Wisconsin, which went a dismal 7- for-18 from the charity stripe.
"I can't shoot them. It's a craft. You get good at something. We've got guys who are pretty good free throw shooters who aren't making their free throws," said Badgers head coach Bo Ryan. "Plus they shoot on their own. Still nothing like the game though, it's always easy for people on the outside looking in with free throws until you've been there and then it's something about what you've got inside, physically and mentally."
Wisconsin was unable to foul an MSU ball handler in the final seconds as well, and the Spartans held on for their fourth straight win over the Badgers.
Wisconsin opened the game with an 11-4 run, but Michigan State countered with a 15-8 sequence to tie the game at 19-19.
Payne's jumper with 1:46 left in the first half gave the Spartans their first lead of the game at 27-26, but Evans' layup with three ticks showing gave the Badgers a 28-27 lead at the break.
The teams traded baskets early in the second half until Dawson's tip in sparked a 6-2 burst that put MSU up 45-41.
The Spartans hold a 73-60 advantage in the all-time series ... MSU shot 44.4 percent (4-for-9) from 3-point range ... Dawson went 7-for-14 from the field ... Wisconsin was 16-for-54 from (29.6 percent) from the floor.