MADISON, Wis. -- Considering some of the shots Wisconsin was hitting, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo joked it must have been divine intervention from the cheesehead gods.
But, he added Jordan Taylor of the Badgers was simply dominating.
Taylor scored 30 points to lead Wisconsin (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) in an 82-56 pounding of Michigan State on Sunday, the Spartans' fifth loss in six games.
It was just short of the Spartans' worst loss ever to the Badgers, a 27-point defeat in 1972, and comes on the heels of a 20-point loss to last-place Iowa.
"I think he played like one of the best guards in the country, not in the Big Ten, today," Izzo said.
Izzo and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan both insisted the Spartans (13-10, 5-6) did all the right things on defense Sunday. But it didn't show up in the box score. The Badgers shot 59 percent from the field, including 11 of 17 from 3-point range.
The Badgers (17-5, 7-3) didn't just torch Michigan State on open looks, either. At times it seemed like a barrage of 3-pointers as the shot clock expired or difficult layups in traffic that rolled around the rim and in.
"Let's be honest. I don't know if you want to rely on a couple of those shots that we made all of the time," Ryan said.
One month ago in East Lansing, the Badgers had a nine-point lead with 2:37 to play. But they collapsed down the stretch as Michigan State forced overtime and went on to the win.
Wisconsin was in control of Sunday's game from the start and never let up. The Badgers led 43-25 at halftime and were up by as many as 33 points in the second half as Taylor hit 9 of 13 from the field and 9 of 10 from the free throw line.
Twice during a 14-2 first-half run that gave Wisconsin its first double-digit lead of the game, Taylor took the ball into the lane and converted tough layups in traffic. A third time, he drew a foul and converted both free throws.
He capped off the run by saving an errant pass Jon Leuer threw to him as he cut toward the basket, tipping the ball to Mike Bruesewitz at the 3-point line. Bruesewitz then kicked it to Leuer, who drained a 3-pointer.
"For the most part, if you're confident in it, it's a good shot," Taylor said.
The Spartans continued to fall farther behind in the second half, and a quick 11-0 run that started 5 minutes into the period pushed the game toward the embarrassing range.
Wisconsin wrapped eight free throws around a 3 by Leuer to push its lead to 66-33. The free throw splurge included four from Tim Jarmusz, two after he was elbowed in the face and was awarded two shots for an intentional foul.
Leuer, who was held to 10 points in the Jan. 11 game at Michigan State, had 20 points and six rebounds on Sunday.
Kalin Lucas led Michigan State with 20 points.
"You say 'Man, where's the defense?' or 'Where's the effort on defense?' " said Michigan State's Draymond Green, who finished with 13 points. "But all the shots were contested. ... Some of the shots they hit, it was just unbelievable."
Izzo has been struggling for weeks to find the right combination for the Spartans. In the only win of their last six games, a streak that started Jan. 18, they needed overtime to beat last-place Indiana at home a week ago.
Izzo started Derrick Nix over Delvon Roe after the sophomore came off the bench against Iowa to score 12 points in 12 minutes. But early in the first half Nix was called for a foul 25 feet from the basket and followed that by failing to close out on Keaton Nankivil as he hit a 3. Izzo put Roe in the game less than 3 minutes in.
Roe and Nix were both held scoreless.
Izzo said he made the change in part due to Wisconsin's personnel. But he also said Roe has been struggling with his knee and his balance. He's also been limited in his practice time.
"He's not the same guy that there was two weeks ago," Izzo said.