Penn State (11-10, 3-5 Big Ten) traveled to Madison on Tuesday to finish its short two-game road trip against No. 15 Wisconsin (17-3, 6-1 Big Ten). The Nittany Lions lost their two previous games to Indiana and Purdue, and faced similar challenges with a solid Badger team led by Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig. It was tight at halftime, but Wisconsin proved to be the better team in the second half — outscoring the Nittany Lions 46-22 in the frame leading to a 82-55 victory for the Badgers.
How It Happened
This game started and it looked like this one was poised to turn into another blowout like the one we witnessed Saturday against Purdue. Penn State turned the ball over frequently and Wisconsin knocked down shots plus added a couple points from the foul line. The Badgers jumped out to an early 18-8 lead about six minutes into the game and forced Penn State to play catchup for the rest of the half.
Penn State was hot in the opening half shooting from beyond the arc — going 6-10 from deep in the frame. Garner had three of those triples and he led the team in scoring with nine points at the break. The Nittany Lions kept battling in the first, cutting Wisconsin’s lead down to a single possession multiple times — Penn State just couldn’t get that bucket to get over the hump.
Wisconsin went into the locker room with a 36-33 advantage and it seemed as though the Nittany Lions were capable of staying in this one despite their excessive turnovers and foul trouble. Obviously, shooting 60 percent from deep isn’t sustainable in a game, but Penn State could’ve kept it tight if not for the unforced errors.
Penn State needed to have a strong first few minutes of the second half to have a chance of pulling off the upset. But just like many times this season, the experience level of the opposition compared to Penn State’s young team showed.
Wisconsin jumped out on a 13-2 run to take control of the game to start the second. The backbreaker seemed to be when Khalil Iverson threw down a monstrous dunk on the inbounds pass when Penn State was down only 14. After that, it seemed like the energy was sucked out of the Nittany Lions and they couldn’t recover.
Wisconsin went on to outscore Penn State 46-22 in the second half. The Nittany Lions committed 17 turnovers in the game, which led to 17 Badger points. Much like it was on Saturday, Penn State was destroyed in the paint — Wisconsin outscored the Nittany Lions 28-10 inside with the Badgers getting whatever they wanted near the rim. Foul trouble also forced heavy rotation in the lineup throughout the game.
Overall, the Nittany Lions just didn’t have it together on the road in the second half on their way to a 27-point loss.
Player Of The Game
Bronson Koenig | Guard | Senior
Multiple Badger players could’ve gotten this honor tonight, but Koenig seemed to be one that hit big shots each time Wisconsin needed one. Whenever Penn State started to make a run, Koenig responded to keep the Nittany Lions at bay. The senior scored 20 points tonight on 8-13 shooting to go along with two rebounds and three assists.
Penn State will return to the Bryce Jordan Center for its next game against Illinois on Saturday at 4:30 p.m live on BTN.