Upset-Happy Lions Down #17 Wisconsin, 56-52
It was feeling like deja vu all over again. A huge crowd filled the Bryce Jordan Center and a ranked team was coming in, this time in the form of the seventeenth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers. Twelve minutes in, the Nittany Lions were down 22-9. Everyone could feel the blowout coming. But this time, it didn’t.
Talor Battle scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half to put this team on his back once again and Penn State beat its third ranked team this season, defeating the Badgers 56-52 on Saturday afternoon.
David Jackson, who had 10 points in the game, stopped the Lion bleeding in the first half by hitting two straight three to cut the Wisconsin lead from ten to four late in the first half. Wisconsin would use buckets from Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor to go up 29-20 at the half, but that’s when Battle did what he has done so many times in the past two years.
A layup by Tim Frazier tied things up at 35 with 11:45 left and after trading buckets for the next seven minutes, a three by Battle put Penn State up for good with under five minutes left.
With three wins over teams in the top-20, serious talks of the Big Dance will start to surround Happy Valley. Penn State stands at 12-8 overall, 5-4 in the Big Ten with zero signature non-conference wins and a home loss to Maine. The Maine loss doesn’t look as bad anymore now that they are poised to win the America East Conference.
Still, I believe we are firmly on the bubble. With nine games left, a 6-3 record would give the Nittany Lions 18 wins heading into the Big Ten Tournament. A road win against Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin or Minnesota (as long as they don’t keep sliding into oblivion) would be a great bonus and if we take down a #1 Ohio State team on Senior Night, you can start looking at plane tickets to first-round sites.
A win or two in the Big Ten Tournament would pad the Penn State resume and almost guarantee the Nittany Lions first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 10 years. The expansion from 65 to 68 teams in the tournament this year might be the difference between this season’s team and the 2009 NIT Championship team.
But as always, they must do it on the court. We’ve seen the inconsistency of this team in the past, but this time, I believe that #WeWillNotBeDenied.
Cleaning the Glass:
- Jeff Brooks gave Penn State a third player in double figures, scoring 12 points.
- Andrew Jones grabbed 14 big rebounds. He’s averaging nearly 10 points and 7.5 rebounds a game since the Michigan State upset.
- On ESPN’s College GameDay after the game, Jay Bilas said, “If you look at the teams they’ve (PennState) beaten, that’s an NCAA team.”
- Saturday’s attendance was 14,292.