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March 9, 2007

Tucker and Wisconsin advance past Spartans

CHICAGO -Alando Tucker, held to three free throws in the opening half, made four 3-pointers in the second half Friday night and No. 3 Wisconsin beat Michigan State 70-57 in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.

Tucker, the league's player of the year, finished with 21 points - his 39th straight game in double figures - and the Badgers (28-4) advanced to a semifinal Saturday against Indiana or Illinois.

Wisconsin had a 15-point halftime lead before Michigan State rallied to within five in the second half. But the Spartans could get no closer as Tucker twice responded with 3-pointers.

Michigan State leading scorer Drew Neitzel, averaging 18 points, was scoreless in the first half and ended with 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting.

The Spartans (22-11), who played one of the league's toughest in-conference schedules, will learn Sunday whether they have earned a 10th straight trip to the NCAA tournament.

State scored the first seven points of the second half as part of an 11-2 run in which the Badgers were held without a basket for almost 7 minutes.

Tucker, who shot only 5-for-14, ended the drought with his first basket of the game, a 3-pointer with 12:48 to go. The Spartans' Raymar Morgan hit a jumper and then Marquise Gray made a steal, drove the length of the floor and dunked, cutting the Badgers' lead to 45-38.

During a timeout, the Badgers bench was assessed a technical foul and Neitzel hit two free throws for his first points of the game, and Wisconsin's lead was down to five.

Tucker and Neitzel exchanged 3-pointers -Neitzel's first basket of the game after missing his first seven shots. After an offensive foul on the Spartans, Tucker hit another 3 to give the Badgers some breathing room. The 6-foot-6 senior delivered again from beyond the arc as the shot clock was going off, putting the Badgers back up by 12 with about 5 minutes to play.

Goran Suton led Michigan State with 14 points and Morgan, who fouled out with about 6 minutes to play, added 11.

Kammron Taylor scored 11 for the Badgers.

For more coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers, check out BadgerBlitz.com; for more on the Michigan State Spartans, check out SpartanMag.com.

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