Close, But No Cigar: No. 5 Wisconsin Defeats Penn State, 55-47
Although Penn State (15-12, 3-11) never held a lead, its effort last night should be applauded. It held No. 5 Wisconsin (24-2, 12-1) to its second lowest point total of the season — save for the Badgers’ meeting with Marquette, where the team mustered up a mere 49 points. Yes, this is just another loss in a season that’s becoming just that: lost.
However, it hasn’t been for lack of effort, as this Penn State team has truly competed every night, en route to only two losses by more than 10 points. It tested one of the top teams in the entire country, and that’s something that should be commended. Let’s take a look at how the action unfolded.
How It Happened
It was obvious from the start that Frank Kaminsky, one of the top players in the nation, was going to be the focal point of Wisconsin’s offensive attack. He got the scoring started for the Badgers, only to have D.J. Newbill — who finished with 29 points while accounting for 61.7 percent of Penn State’s points, the highest percentage of a major conference player this year — respond with a jumper of his own.
It appeared early on that both teams would remain deadlocked for most of the half, until the misses began to pile up on Penn State’s end. Wisconsin used Penn State’s early lackluster field-goal percentage to its advantage, hopping out to a 14-6 lead at around the 13-minute mark.
This is where things began to get interesting for the Nittany Lions. Obviously, Newbill is the team’s centerpiece and unquestioned star. He scored the next 12 points for the Nittany Lions before Brandon Taylor drained a three to cut Wisconsin’s lead to six. From there, Penn State got the crowd into it with a beautiful alley-oop from Newbill to Jordan Dickerson — who finished with two points, three boards, and two blocks.
Sam Dekker — who finished with a career high 22 points — and Kaminsky led the way towards the end of the first half, hitting jumpers and dominating the boards to close out the half on top, 31-24. It wasn’t a lead for the Nittany Lions, but was good enough to hang around.
The second half got off to another slow start for the Penn State, as the team fell into a 42-28 hole through about nine minutes of play thanks to an offensive explosion by the Badgers. Penn State began to turn the corner, however, embarking on a 13-2 run — again, mostly thanks to Newbill — to get to within five of the Badgers with 4:08 to go. But the duo of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker proved to be too much, and a steal by Kaminsky led to two huge free throws, followed by a clutch layup with 2:19 to play. Penn State just couldn’t muster up enough to gain an edge, and eventually fell by a score of 55-47.
No outrageous calls, no last second magic. Just the absence of time and, well, a lot of Frank Kaminsky, who wound up with a humble-for-his-standards 16 points, nine boards, two assists, and one block. Kaminsky went 7-of-8 from the free throw line, coming up big in the game’s waning minutes.
Player Of The Game
My game MVP honors will be bestowed upon Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker, who finished with a career-high 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting. Dekker is a very underrated player, and when teamed with Kaminsky, forms a dominant duo that’s tough for anybody to contain. Well played, Mr. Dekker.
Tweet Of The Game
D.J. Newbill scored the highest percentage (61.7%) of a team’s points tonight by a major-conference player this season. (via @ESPNStatsInfo)
— Onward Sports (@OnwardStSports) February 19, 2015
Where would this team be without D.J. Newbill? On second thought, don’t answer that.
- With the victory, Wisconsin now sits atop the Big Ten Standings with a 12-1 conference record, losing only to Rutgers in a shocker. The Nittany Lions are on the other end of the spectrum, sitting near the bottom of the conference standings at No. 13, leading only Rutgers. Yikes.
- Of Penn State’s 14 conference games, nine have been decided by nine points or less. The eight losses have been by an average of five points.
Next up for the Nittany Lions is a date with Northwestern over THON weekend, which sits above Penn State at No. 12 in the Big Ten standings. The game is Sunday, Feb 21. at 3 p.m. at the Welsh-Ryan Arena. If the Nittany Lions are to secure at least one more Big Ten win before the regular season concludes, this is the game to do it.
Photo: Bobby Chen/Onward State