As if that weren't a big enough challenge, the Nittany Lions made this trip without leading scorer Jamelle Cornley, who remained in State College while nursing a sore knee. And they were facing the Badgers on Senior Night, Wisconsin's final home game of the season.
True to form, Penn State was no match for the home team, dropping a 77-41 decision to fall to 14-15 on the season and 6-11 in the Big Ten. The scoring total was PSU's lowest since putting up 38 in a loss at Iowa March 1, 2006.
The Lions must win Sunday's regular-season finale against Indiana at the Jordan Center to give themselves a realistic shot of advancing to a post-season tournament.
The No. 10 Badgers improved to 25-4 and 15-2, and clinched a tie for the league title heading into the final weekend of regular-season action.
Wisconsin grabbed this game by the throat early, dominating Penn State in the paint on an 11-2 run that boosted a 16-10 lead to 27-12. The Lions went 1 of 9 from the field during that spell.
The Badgers doubled up PSU 34-17 in the first half and scored the first six points after the break to put it away. Sixteen different Wisconsin players saw the floor, and forward Marcus Landry tallied 15 points to lead the way.
Coming off a career-high 28-point showing in a win over Michigan Saturday, Lion rookie guard Talor Battle started this game 1 of 7 and finished with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. He was the only PSU player in doubles.
Another rookie, forward Jeff Brooks, started in place of Cornley. He had eight points and five rebounds in 28 minutes.
The Lions made only 16 of 54 shots and were 6 of 25 from the arc.
State wraps up the regular season with the Hooisers at the Jordan Center Sunday. The game, which tips at 2 p.m., will be carried by ESPN.
Cornley is expected to return for the game against the Hoosiers.