Preview: Penn State at No.10 Wisconsin

After seeing its 3-point shot vanish at Mackey Arena, No.10 Wisconsin returns to the friendly confines of the Kohl Center and hopes to win its 19 consecutive home game against Penn State Sunday.

Penn State (14-11, 7-7 Big Ten) vs. No.10 Wisconsin (19-6, 9-4 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Sunday, February 20, at 5 p.m. Central

Arena –Kohl Center (17,120)

Television - Big Ten Network (Brian Anderson and Shon Morris)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Wisconsin Leads 25-9 (UW leads 14-2 in Madison)

Last Meeting - Penn State won, 56-52, on Jan. 29, 2011 in State College, Pa.

Wisconsin Probable Starters

11 Jordan Taylor (Junior Guard, 18.0 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Freshman Guard, 5.5 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Senior Forward, 4.0 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Senior Forward, 19.2 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Senior Forward, 9.3 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Wquinton Smith (Senior Guard, 0.4 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (Sophomore Forward, 3.2 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Sophomore Forward, 4.6 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Sophomore Forward, 2.7 ppg)

Penn State Probable Starters

12 Talor Battle (Senior Guard, 20.7 ppg)

15 David Jackson (Senior Forward, 10.5 ppg)

22 Andrew Jones (Senior Guard, 6.2 ppg)

23 Tim Frazier (Sophomore Guard, 5.0 ppg)

25 Jeff Brooks (Senior Forward, 13.2 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Jermaine Marshall (Freshman Guard, 2.3 ppg)

35 Billy Oliver (Freshman Forward, 2.9 ppg)

Last Time Out

After raising the bar so high last Saturday, the night was long and demoralizing in a 70-62 defeat to No.11 Purdue Wednesday night, especially after one 3-point shot at a crucial time would have changed the game's entire complex. Instead, the Badgers' 15.8 percent 3-point shooting (3-for-19) was a season worst and their 1-for-12 performance in the second half prevented them from getting over the hump, as seven different players missed a 3-point attempt at some point on the night.

It was a heavy dose of reality after the Badgers' hot perimeter shooting gave them national headlines in erasing a 15-point deficit to beat then-No.1 Ohio State on Saturday.

"Anytime we step on the court, we're looking to win and if we don't, we're disappointed," said Leuer, who led all scorers with 23. "To come out with a loss after a hard-fought game like that is definitely disappointing."

The victory anoints Purdue (21-5, 10-3 Big Ten) as the sole challenger to No.2 Ohio State, as the Boilermakers are two games back of the Buckeyes with five to play, including a meeting between the two schools Sunday at Mackey, after beating Wisconsin here for the 37th time in 39 games.

Even with things blowing up in their faces, the resiliency and moxie Wisconsin (19-6, 9-4) tends to show came out when Purdue's lead ballooned to 13, its largest of the game, as the Badgers tried to pull off another great escape.

When Leuer nailed what had been a rare 3-pointer from the elbow to start chipping into the lead, it almost seemed to bring the flashbacks of Saturday's second half. The ensuring 9-2 run, seven of the points coming from Leuer, to cut the lead to 53-47 seemed to validate those beliefs, especially when the Boilermakers went nearly six minutes between field goals.

When the lead was final cut to two, the Boilermakers responded with a 7-0 run, highlighted by Moore hitting an open 3-pointer off an in-bound play at 2:07 and three miss UW shots, to push the lead to nine.

The Badgers never got the lead below five again.

Last Meeting

Battle scored 20 of his 22 points after halftime and the Nittany Lions crashed the boards and turned up the defensive pressure in the second half to beat the Badgers, 56-52.

Finally, a 12-game losing streak over eight years to Wisconsin (15-5, 5-3) was over. Battle and his three fellow seniors had never tasted victory against the Badgers -- until Saturday.

"That's why he hugged me at the end of the game," a happy PSU coach Ed DeChellis said. "Four years of frustration."

Leuer led Wisconsin with 18 points, while Brooks scored 12 and Jones grabbed 14 rebounds to the help the Nittany Lions (12-8, 5-4) overcome a 13-point deficit in the first half.

"Our kids, we believe we can win," DeChellis said.

The results haven't always been there, though, in Happy Valley, where the basketball team often struggles to fill the 15,000-plus seat Jordan Center.

Not Saturday, when Battle, Brooks and Jones helped deliver another important win for Penn State's postseason resume in front of about 14,200 fans who came out in spite of about a couple inches of morning snow.

Go-to guy Battle led the charge -- as usual. His 3-pointer off an inbounds pass with 10:51 left gave Penn State its first lead of the night.

With Wisconsin threatening to regain the momentum by slowing the game down to a comfortably methodical pace, Battle's 3 from about 30 feet put the Nittany Lions up for good, 43-42 with 4:51 left, and Brooks followed with another 3 about 30 seconds later to force the Badgers to call timeout.

Then with 1:16 left Battle drove the lane before feeding Jones for a layup for a 50-44 lead. Battle finished it off by going 5 of 6 from the line over the final 25 seconds.

Penn State also benefited from several missed open looks from the Badgers, who shot 32 percent in the second half after hitting 54 percent in the first.

Series Notes:

The Nittany Lions' victory earlier this season snapped the Badgers' streak of 12 consecutive wins in the series. UW's 12-game win streak vs. PSU was tied as the Big Ten's longest active win streak against a single conference opponent (Ohio State has also beaten PSU 12 straight times).

The Badgers have won 13 consecutive home games against Penn State. The last time PSU won in Madison was in 1995.

Bo Ryan, a native of Chester, Pa. is 14-3 vs. Penn State all-time and owns a 12-1 record vs. PSU head coach Ed DeChellis.

In the last meeting at the Kohl Center, UW recorded the 4th-largest second-half comeback in program history. The Badgers trailed PSU by 16, 52-36, with 11:14 left and won 79-71 in overtime.

Wisconsin video coordinator Sharif Chambliss played three seasons (2001-03) at Penn State before transferring and finished his playing career at UW.

Penn State Notes:

Penn State logged its seventh Big Ten win of the season vs. Northwestern. Seven Big Ten wins ties the 5th-best mark in program history and marks the fourth time in Ed DeChellis' eight seasons the Lions have recorded at least six Big Ten wins. Penn State has reached the mark eight times total in 19 seasons in the conference.

Battle enters Sunday with 2,043 points, 587 rebounds and 494 assists on his career. He needs just SIX assists to become the first Big Ten player ever to post 2,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists. He would be the second player to have been coached by Ed DeChellis to achieve those marks joining Timmy Smith (2002-06) of East Tennessee State.

Penn State's four RPI Top 50 wins are second only to Ohio State (7) and Wisconsin (6) in the Big Ten and equal to Purdue (4) and Illinois (4).

Penn State committed a season-low five turnovers in a win over Minnesota and now stands second in Big Ten games in scoring defense (63.1) to Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Notes:

Wisconsin has 17 straight games at the Kohl Center and 35 of its last 36. That 17-game home win streak is the 7th-longest in UW history and is also tied for the 8th-longest active streak in the nation.

Prior to Bo Ryan taking over as UW's head coach in 2001-02, the Badgers had four 19-win seasons (with a high of 22) in 103 years. Including this year's campaign, Ryan has led the UW to at least 19 wins in each of his 10 seasons at Wisconsin. With one more win, UW will post its eighth 20-win season in the last nine years.

During Big Ten Conference play, Jordan Taylor (20.4) and Jon Leuer (18.7) have combined to average a Big Ten-best 39.1 points per game. The duo is combining to score 58.2 percent of Wisconsin's 67.2 points per game during league play.

UW's 82.5 percent shooting would rank as the top mark in NCAA history. Harvard owns the NCAA record, shooting 82.2 percent in 1984. In fact, only six teams have ever shot 80.0 percent or better for an entire season

Prediction

There should be a level of concern with this game, especially with the performance Penn State put on at the Kohl Center last year. The Nittany Lions led by as many as 16 in the second half, until Taylor, then a sophomore, hit his final six shots, scored the last eight points of regulation and seven of the first nine points in overtime to lead the Badgers to a 79-71 overtime win last January.

Wisconsin plays great defense (57.2 ppg is 2nd in NCAA), takes care of the ball (7.8 TOs per game is 1st in NCAA), makes free throws (.825 is 1st in NCAA) and is ultra-efficient on offense (1.18 points per possession is tied for 2nd in NCAA), but Penn State has four senior starters and have put in deep road scares against Ohio State, Purdue and Illinois. Badgers fans should be concerned coming into this game.

Wisconsin doesn't lose at home and Penn State is trying to play its way back on to the NCAA tournament bubble. Therefore, expect a very good game and a narrow … narrow … Wisconsin victory by six.

Worgull's Record: 24-1

Points off Prediction: 159 (6.36 per game)


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