MADISON – When the Michigan State University men’s basketball team takes on Wisconsin (11-3 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) at the Kohl Center here Sunday afternoon, it will be the Spartans’ first competition in eight days.
“I don’t like having eight days off before any game, and maybe a game that is becoming a little bit more a rivalry, it’s even worse I think,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said in a conference call.
Michigan State (10-2, 2-0) cruised through its first two Big Ten games, an 84-58 win at Penn State Jan. 5 and an 87-58 win over Northwestern Jan. 8, before entering the longest lull it will face between games this season.
Said Izzo: “Somehow we are going to make sure that we use that to our advantage and temper it early and build up to it like you have to do in a football week rather than a basketball week where normally you have two or three games.”
Tucker still day-to-day
Wisconsin sophomore forward Alando Tucker took part in limited practice Friday and remains day-to-day with a right foot injury, an athletics communications representative said. Tucker injured the foot in practice Jan. 9 and sat out the Badgers’ win over Ohio State two nights later.
It is not known whether Tucker, the Badgers’ leading scorer (16.0 points per game) and second-leading rebounder (6.4 rebounds per game), will be able to play Sunday.
“He’s a competitor. He’s a guy that likes to play,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said of Tucker. “He’d have to be medically cleared to be able to go.”
Tucker, who has not been available for comment since the injury, played in just four games last season before two foot injuries forced him to take a medical redshirt.
The University of Wisconsin athletics department has a policy of not releasing details of players’ injuries unless the student-athlete permits the disclosure. Ryan has, however, made clear that Tucker’s current ailment is not related to the injuries that sidelined him last year.
In each of its three wins over Michigan State last season, Wisconsin made more free throws than the Spartans took. All told, the Badgers were 52 of 72 from the charity stripe in those games, compared to 30 of 35 for MSU. Wisconsin won the last two matchups by a combined six points, making 11 more free throws than the Spartans in those contests.
So far this season, Michigan State has taken 60 fewer free throws than Wisconsin in two fewer games. The Spartans, though, have made only two less than the Badgers’ 211. Michigan State’s 81 percent free throw shooting (209 of 259) is the top mark in the Big Ten. UW is eighth at 66 percent (211 of 319).
Fast break: Senior forward Zach Morley continues to play with a broken left pinky, an injury he suffered in practice Jan. 9…. Freshman guard Michael Flowers returned to practice Friday. He had left Thursday’s practice early after receiving an elbow to the head. Flowers said Friday that he felt a little dizzy initially but that he was fine soon afterward.