EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Denzel Valentine had 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, leading No. 8 Michigan State to a 69-57 victory over Wisconsin on Thursday night.
The Spartans (22-5, 9-5 Big Ten) went from eighth place in the conference into a four-way tie for fourth with their sixth win in seven games.
Michigan State’s Bryn Forbes scored 17 points and Eron Harris had 10.
The Badgers (16-10, 8-5) had won seven straight games dating to their victory Jan. 17, at home against Michigan State.
Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ scored 18 points and Bronson Koenig had 12 with a scoring surge late in the game. Nigel Hayes was held to a season-low five points, 12 below his team-high scoring average, for the Badgers.
The Valentine-led Spartans took control early and never gave up the lead. Valentine had three assists and two points 3:13 into the game, helping Michigan State take a 10-3 lead. He assisted on or scored every basket for the Spartans when they built a 23-10 lead. The senior guard had nine points and seven assists in 17 minutes, helping Michigan State to a 32-23 halftime lead.
The Spartans started the second half strong, building a 13-point lead on Matt Costello’s dunk off an assist from Valentine. They didn’t have much trouble keeping a comfortable cushion against a team that was coming off a 13-point victory on the road against then-No. 2 Maryland, one of three ranked teams it beat during the seven-game winning streak.
Wisconsin: Koenig extended his streak with a 3-pointer to 37 games, but didn’t do much else for the Badgers until late in the game when it was out of reach. … Happ had a strong showing after the freshman was held to single digits in three of the previous four games, including scoring a total of six points combined in the previous two.
Michigan State: The Spartans hosted Wisconsin in their only game during an eight-day stretch that will give coach Tom Izzo a chance to fine tune his team toward the end of the regular season. … Michigan State matched its lowest scoring total since Jan. 2 when it scored 69 points in a win at Minnesota.
Wisconsin hosts Illinois on Sunday.
Michigan State is at Ohio State on Tuesday.