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Flowers, Krabbenhoft combine to shut down MSU’s Neitzel, Morgan

first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoMichael Flowers, take a bow.Joe Krabbenhoft, you take one too.No individuals were more influential in Wisconsin?s 57-42 win over Michigan State than those two players. To judge their full effect, look no further than the stat sheet.But not at Flowers? nine points, three rebounds and three assists, or Krabbenhoft?s five points, six rebounds and three assists.Instead, look at the lines of the Michigan State players those two were responsible for covering.Flowers and Krabbenhoft held MSU?s Drew Neitzel and Raymar Morgan ? a duo that averages 29 points per game for the season ? to just 10 points combined.Neitzel: three points, one-of-10 shooting, two rebounds, three assists.Morgan: seven points, seven rebounds.?If you looked at everything else in this game plan, we did a pretty good job,? Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. ?Yet our two best scorers didn?t score, and that makes a big difference.?Morgan scored the Spartan?s first field goal of the game, a basket that would yield the pair?s only two points in the opening half.Neitzel was held scoreless for the first 30 minutes of the game, before notching his first points with 9:52 left in the game on a 3-point basket. That was the senior?s only made shot on 10 attempts, a statistic no doubt influenced by the fact he was relentlessly hounded by Flowers whenever the Spartans had the ball.?Flowers is a good defender. He was on me,? Neitzel said. ?When I did get some open looks, he kept me out of rhythm, running at me and things like that.?The Wisconsin senior was tireless in his pursuit of Neitzel, weaving in and out of screens set to free the Michigan State shooter and forcing him to catch the ball well away from hoop, in no position to attempt a shot.?It?s amazing ? he never stops,? UW guard Trevon Hughes said of his teammate. ?He?s got a motor. I think he feeds off of oil. He don?t eat regular food.?When Neitzel finally did free himself from Flowers, the Spartan was hesitant to shoot.The same player who nearly single-handedly beat the top-ranked Badgers a year ago with a 28-point outburst, making 6-of-11 threes, looked totally off his game. Numerous times Neitzel turned down good looks, instead opting for passes to less offensively-inclined teammates.?He did a good job of keeping me off balance,? Neitzel said. ?Sometimes coming off screens I was open, but I thought he would be right there on me, so I hesitated a little bit.?Trailing by 15 with 2:31 remaining and unable to spring his shooting guard for much-needed offense, Izzo pulled Neitzel, essentially waving a white flag on the game.Morgan didn?t fare much better.Krabbenhoft, Wisconsin?s ?glue guy,? according to Izzo, was tabbed by Ryan to match the physical Morgan and guarded the Michigan State sophomore for most the game.The two banged and fought for rebounds and position on the block throughout the contest, a matchup of two aggressive bodies determined not to give an inch.Morgan?s a very great player, a very physical and strong player, so we put Joe on him,? Wisconsin forward Marcus Landry said. ?Joe?s never going to give up. ? (Krabbenhoft) did a great job on [Morgan], and he?s just a great defender.?After that first Spartan field goal of the game, Morgan didn?t score again until making the second of two free throws with just over eight minutes left in the game. By the time he made his next field goal, a dunk with four-and-a-half minutes left, the game was already well out of hand.Morgan?s own ineffectiveness seemed to get to him as the game wore on. After a tie up with Brian Butch led to a timeout, Butch tried to give Morgan a pat on the back, but an irritated Morgan slapped Butch?s hand away.When he did have good looks, Morgan was unable to convert.?It was just us making shots and making plays,? Morgan said.That, and tremendous defensive efforts by two of Wisconsin?s toughest players.last_img read more