After leading 36-34 at the break, the Lions shot only 30 percent from the floor in the second half. They received 11 points from their three-guard rotation in the game. They were crushed 45-24 on the glass. And, for the second-straight game, they appeared to have no legs in the final 20 minutes.
None of which caught the coach's eye.
I look at more defensive stuff, DeChellis said. There were opportunities where we didn't take a charge. There were opportunities where we didn't find the ball. There were opportunities where we didn't [defensive] rebound.
He was right, of course. After struggling through the first half, at one point going nearly eight minutes without scoring, the Badgers (17-7, 7-4 and losers for three of their last four) trailed by only a bucket at the break. UW coach Bo Ryan said he gave no pep talk in the locker room, and that when his team came out in the second half it simply began working offensive angles more effectively.
When told of this, DeChellis, like everyone else in the room, shrugged in puzzlement, saying his troops knew exactly what was coming — regardless of the angles — and did not get it done.
We're just making some critical mistakes mentally, he said.
With Wisconsin holding a huge size advantage, DeChellis had no choice but to stay in a zone all game. And it worked in the first half as the Badgers made only 13 of 35 shots. But when UW began to get things going offensively in the second half by muscling inside, with Brian Butch (23 points) doing most of the damage, State switched to a triangle and two.
The two guards in this instance were chasing slick Kammron Taylor and reserve Michael Flowers. The Lions were down 45-40 when they went with the gimmick, and Taylor quickly found himself alone for a 3-pointer. He made it. Butch followed with a tip-in and a conventional 3-point play, and the Flower shook free for a triple. Then Taylor scored from the arc.
And just like that it was 58-45. With 11:08 to go, the PSU student section even gave up, turning its attention instead to star football recruit Vidal Hazelton, who was on campus for a surprise visit. They spent much of the last 10 minutes chanting HAZE-EL-TON, HAZE-EL-TON.
With five minutes to go and State down 72-53, even the former Lion hoop players on hand for a special halftime ceremony began filing out.
When asked what went wrong in the second half, Lion freshman Jamelle Cornley, who had 14 in the first 20 minutes on 6-of-7 shooting, said the team could not locate its stroke after the break.
We couldn't find anything to spark us, he said after being held scoreless in the second half.
DeChellis wasn't buying that, either.
I don't know what spark we need, he said. We're always looking for an offensive spark. We need a defensive spark.
UW shot 62.5 percent in the second half.
Geary Claxton played a strong game for PSU, with 21 points and nine rebounds. The rest of the team had a total of 15 boards.
Butch had a double-double with 23 points and 12 boards.
Wisconsin outscored PSU in the paint, 42-18.
Both staffs wore sneakers as part of the nationwide campaign to raise awareness for Coaches vs. Cancer.
Penn State plays host to reeling Indiana Wednesday at 8 p.m.
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