INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Devin Harris didn't let his team's poor
shooting affect him.
He scored 21 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers to start
a late rally, and No. 10 Wisconsin beat Michigan State 68-66
Saturday to advance to the Big Ten championship game.
When the buzzer sound, a euphoric Harris dived to the floor in
front of the Badgers bench, and his teammates piled on top of him
"Some of the shots were toward the end of the shot clock, and I
came off the screen, trying to make some thing happen," said
Harris, the Big Ten's Player of the Year. "Toward the end of the
game, if I get open looks, I'm going to take it, but I'm not going
to force anything."
The Spartans had a chance to tie it after Wisconsin's Zach
Morley missed the second of two free throws that could have sealed
the game. However, Maurice Ager's runner in the lane caromed off
the front of the rim as time expired.
"I don't think I could have gotten a better look," Ager said.
"It just came out. Every time I shoot the ball, I feel it can go
it. It just didn't work out that way."
Wisconsin (23-6) will play No. 12 Illinois, the defending
tournament and regular-season champion, on Sunday for an automatic
berth in the NCAA tournament. The championship will pit the
tournament's top two seeds, and Wisconsin will make its first
appearance in the title game.
The Illini have won 12 straight since losing to the Badgers
76-56 on Jan. 24 in Madison, Wis.
"They're definitely playing real well now," Wisconsin's Mike
Wilkinson said. "When they're the toughest, all five guys are
scoring. It should be a fun game, definitely a challenge."
Michigan State, meanwhile, had hoped to avenge a 68-64 loss to
Wisconsin at home that would have given the Spartans a share of the
Big Ten title. Instead, they lost to Badgers for the fifth straight
"It was definitely a big game for us," Michigan State guard
Calvin Hill said. "It was a game we had a chance to advance to the
championship. That was our goal."
Wilkinson had 20 points and helped set the tempo inside for the
Badgers, who shot 33 percent in the first half but improved to 64
percent in the second. He also grabbed nine rebounds and blocked
three shots to anchor a physical interior defense that forced
Michigan State outside.
"Where have you seen in a game both teams have 12 assists and
five turnovers with two physical teams?" Badgers coach Bo Ryan
said. "Each possession was a war. I can't wait to look at this on
The Spartans (18-11), which led the Big Ten in field-goal
percentage, 3-point field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage
and scoring offense, shot 54.5 percent for the game and hit 4-of-6
3-pointers in the first half, but managed only one more the rest of
"I feel worse than my players," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said.
"They did everything you could do to win a basket ball game. Give
credit to Devin Harris. He made some shots I'm not even sure I'd
take. But he's done it all year."
Michigan State led 35-30 at the break, but Wisconsin came back
with 10-0 run to take a 50-46 lead with 10:58 left.
Ager hit a 3-pointer with 5:28 left to give Michigan State a
58-57 lead. The teams traded baskets until Harris hit a 3 with 1:17
left to give Wisconsin a 65-64 lead.
Ager came right back with a basket of his own, but Wilkinson hit
two free throws to put the Badgers on top for good.
"It was another tough loss," Izzo said. "But if failure
builds character, I'm going to have some character before the