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Penn State Men’s Basketball Falls To Wisconsin 66-60 Despite Late Push

Fresh off a momentum-building win over Northwestern on the road, Penn State (11-9, 2-5 Big Ten) returned to Happy Valley to host Nigel Hayes and the 10-9 Wisconsin Badgers. The Lions held their own until the second half, but a final two-minute push brought them within mere points of what would’ve been a commendable come from behind victory. In the end, the last-minute effort wasn’t enough for Chambers and his men as Penn State fell 66-60.

How It Happened

One word to describe this matchup would certainly be “physical,” especially down in the paint. Preseason All-American Nigel Hayes and Brandon Taylor went at each other all night long, and while the two weren’t shy about trading blows, the baskets came from Hayes. Penn State’s leading scorer failed to generate any scoring in the first half and really didn’t look comfortable at any point in the game offensively.

A deep three from Payton Banks made it 13-8 early in the first and breathed life into the otherwise listless Bryce Jordan Center crowd early in the first half, but shots were few and far between from Pat Chambers’ group. Banks’ three proved to be the team’s only one of the half, as Wisconsin moved the ball with ease around the court. The Badgers made each possession count — especially in the paint. Big man Ethan Happ exploited the holes in Penn State’s frontcourt en route to a 10 point first half.

After a few needed baskets, Chambers tightened up the defensive intensity in an attempt to keep the Badgers at bay — and it paid off. A late Shep Garner layup brought the Lions to within three, but Wisconsin battled valiantly as it finished the half on top 27-18 after a three pointer at the buzzer.

Things began to get out of hand as the second half began after untimely turnovers allowed the Badgers to take a commanding 38-21 lead after a perfectly executed layup from Hayes. From that point on, it was all Wisconsin. The Lions were sporadic with the ball, and simply could not get shots to fall.

It wasn’t until another three from Banks brought the Lions to within seven with a little over four minutes remaining. Taylor, who finished with 13 points (all of which came in the second half), followed suit with a layup of his own to further chip at the lead. A pair of late threes by Devin Foster to break up a series of free throw shooting helped make it 63-60 with 31 ticks remaining, but a costly miss from Zemgulis proved to be the proverbial nail in the coffin for Penn State, as the Badgers ended it on top 66-60.

Player Of The Game

Nigel Hayes | F | Jr. 

Wisconsin star and likely NBA lottery pick Nigel Hayes dominated the Lions across the board as he effortlessly took charge down the stretch. He was physical, aggressive, but most importantly — consistent. It took an army to slow him down, but with 15 points, five assists, and three rebounds, Hayes stood out among the rest.

What’s Next?

Next up for the struggling Lions is a trip to Columbus on Jan 25 at 7 p.m. to take on the Buckeyes.

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About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]

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