No. 4 Wisconsin Too Much for PSU

To hang with No. 4 Wisconsin at the Jordan Center Wednesday night, struggling Penn State had to play near flawless basketball. And for 30 minutes, the Nittany Lions did just that — shooting well, rebounding effectively and offering sound defense.

But Penn State blinked on two key possessions midway through the second half, allowing the Badgers to boost a two-point lead to eight in less than a minute. And Bo Ryan's team never looked back in cruising to a 71-58 victory.

“That was really big,” PSU coach Ed DeChellis said of the Wisconsin spurt. “[Because] then you've got to fight your way back and that's hard against this team. They're sound.”

Penn State fell to 10-12 overall and 1-8 in the Big Ten with its eighth straight loss. Wisconsin improved to 23-2 and 9-1.

The Nittany Lions played well through the first 30 minutes, despite losing leading scorer Geary Claxton for most of the first half due to foul trouble. The Badgers were up 34-29 at the break, and with Claxton back in the second half PSU quickly closed the gap.

Jamelle Cornley scored two of his team-high 20 points on a layup with 11:21 remaining to cut the lead to 45-43. But less than a minute later, the Lions fell asleep on defense. Michael Flowers made a wide-open 3-pointer from the right corner and the lead was 48-43.

On Wisconsin's next possession, Flowers popped open on the left wing. He hit another triple and just like that the score was 51-43.

Flowers, who made 2 of 13 3-pointers in nine previous league games, was an unlikely hero on a team that features national Player of the Year front-runner Alando Tucker and gifted guard Kammron Taylor.

“We'll feed off of anything,” Ryan said. “Just give us a little something. Some crumbs.”

For Penn State, meanwhile, it was more of the combination of poor luck and poor defense that has haunted the team during the skid.

“There are certain people who are not good shooters who find a way to hit key baskets against us,” Cornley said. “That was the last thing we expected was for him to shoot it, let alone make two of them.”

With a solid working margin, Tucker and Taylor took off. The former had back-to-back conventional 3-point plays to boost the lead to 59-47 with six minutes to go and finished with 24 points. Taylor had 13 points and made 6 of 6 free throws.


Alando Tucker.

Considering the caliber of the competition, just playing well for three-quarters of the game was something of a moral victory for the Lions. They showed plenty of fight in the first half, and DeChellis even picked up the first technical of his PSU career after a series of calls went against Penn State. He later admitted he just wanted to show his team he was not giving up.

And in this game, at least, the Lions didn't appear to pack it in, scrapping for buckets and rebounds even after the outcome was decided.

“I thought we competed and played hard,” DeChellis said. “… We played well for about 33 minutes.”

Unfortunately for the 7,615 fans who watched the game, that wasn't nearly enough against the nation's No. 4 team.

GAME NOTES

• On the news that former Nittany Lion center John Amaechi is about to come out as being gay, DeChellis said, “John was great for Penn State. You could not have a better role model as a player and student and a guy who did so much for the community. I feel good for him that he can talk about his sexuality and get that out in the open.” DeChellis recruited Amaechi when the former was a PSU assistant and the latter was looking to transfer from Vanderbilt.

• PSU starting center Brandon Hassell did not dress due to a sprained foot sustained in practice Monday. Milos Bogetic started in his absence and had three points and three boards in 22 minutes. Sophomore Joonas Suotamo saw his first extended Big Ten action (18 minutes) and played well, bringing down six rebounds.

• Lion point guard Ben Luber was held scoreless for the third time in four games.

• Claxton had his seventh double-double of the season (13-10) and 16th of his career.

• Penn State heads to Northwestern Saturday for a 2:31 p.m. tip.

See Penn State's Season Box Scores Here.

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