Kaminsky, No. 5 Wisconsin beat Michigan St. 68-61 to clinch share of Big Ten title
Michigan State's Denzel Valentine, center, shoots between Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes (10) and Frank Kaminsky during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, March 1, 2015, in Madison, Wis.
Bo Ryan posed a playful question after the game while glancing at the box score.
"Who's that Kaminsky guy?" the Wisconsin coach asked.
That would be Frank Kaminsky, the athletic senior who had the best night of his impressive season in his last home game with the fifth-ranked Badgers.
Kaminsky scored 31 points, Nigel Hayes added 14 and Wisconsin clinched at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title with a 68-61 victory Sunday over Michigan State.
"To go out on Senior Day and win a Big Ten title ... was unbelievable," Kaminsky said.
The 7-footer finished 11 of 17 from the field and displayed the ball-handling skills of a guard. He sidestepped defenders to get to the hoop and hit three 3-pointers.
Kaminsky also came up with big plays down the stretch to thwart the Spartans' comeback attempt from a 22-point deficit.
Bryn Forbes' open 3 from the corner got Michigan State within 64-53 with about 2:30 left.
Coach Tom Izzo's club had no answer for Kaminsky.
Kaminsky banked a short jumper off the glass for a 13-point lead with 1:52 left for Wisconsin (26-3, 14-2) before blocking a shot on the other end to whip the crowd into a frenzy.
Kaminsky is "no question the best player in the country this year," Izzo said.
He called Kaminsky the best player that he had seen in the league since Glenn Robinson starred Purdue in the 1990s.
"He's the most versatile kid that our league has seen in a long, long time," Izzo said about Kaminsky.
Forbes finished with 21 points for the Spartans, who lost their second straight.
One more win gives the Badgers the outright Big Ten title.
"When you do get a piece of one, it reminds you of how much work it takes to get to that position," Ryan said.
Kaminsky led the way. "Frank the Tank!" yelled the student section after Kaminsky's big second-half plays.
Junior forward Sam Dekker added eight points, including two early baskets after halftime that helped the Badgers build their second-half cushion.
Branden Dawson opened the second half by missing badly on a short jumper in the lane. On the other end, Kaminsky threw a high entry pass to Dekker, who found an open path for a layup after two Michigan State defenders overplayed the ball.
Another senior, Josh Gasser, and Ryan said they couldn't help but watch Kaminsky make more plays.
"My job was easy, get the ball to Frank, clear out and create space for him to go to work," said Gasser, who finished with nine points.
Michigan State lost its second straight to fall into a fourth-place tie with Iowa. A team known for rugged frontcourt play got outrebounded 35-24.
"The rebounding is a telltale (sign) of where team is at mentally," Izzo said, referring to failing to bounce back from a 96-90 overtime loss to Minnesota.
Izzo had Forbes and Dawson coming off the bench, replacing them in the starting lineup with Travis Trice and Marvin Clark Jr.
Dawson didn't start for the first time since a win over Marquette on Nov. 28. Izzo alluded to being unhappy with Dawson's play in the Minnesota loss.
"We're not going to play at 25-30 percent. I thought he did, so that was my decision, and I'll take full responsibility for it," Izzo said.
Dawson finished with four points on 2 of 4 shooting and missed two foul shots.
MICHIGAN STATE: Clark made his sixth start of the season, but his first since Dec. 22. Trice, a senior captain, started for the first time since Feb. 7. He averaged 17.2 points in five games off the bench until rejoining the starting five on Sunday. ... Trice finished with 16 points.
WISCONSIN: Point guard Traevon Jackson received a hearty ovation from the crowd for the Senior Day ceremony before the game. The senior, who was not cleared to play for the final home game of his Wisconsin career, sat on the bench in khakis and a sweater. ... The Badgers shot 16 of 27 (59 percent) in the first half to take a 36-25 halftime lead.
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