Preview: No.19 Wisconsin at Penn State

Resuming conference play after having the weekend off and finding itself one game behind Ohio State in the conference race, No.19 Wisconsin puts its impressive road record on the line when it faces last-place Penn State in State College Tuesday night.

No.19 Wisconsin (17-5, 6-3 Big Ten) vs. Penn State (10-12, 2-7 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Tuesday, January 31, 7:00 p.m. Central

Arena – Bryce Jordan Center (17,190)

Television - Big Ten Network (Dave Revsine and Jimmy Jackson)

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

Series – Wisconsin leads 26-10 (Wisconsin leads 10-7 in State College)

Last Meeting – Penn State won, 36-33, on March 11, 2011 in Indianapolis.

Wisconsin Probable Starters

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Junior Forward, 9.8 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (6-1 Senior Guard, 13.9 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 7.7 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Junior Forward, 6.6 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Junior Forward, 10.6 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 9.5 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Freshman Guard, 1.6 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (6-4 Senior Guard, 2.6 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Freshman Forward, 2.4 ppg)

Penn State Probable Starters

5 Matt Glover (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 3.6 ppg)

11 Jermaine Marshall (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 10.0 ppg)

23 Tim Frazier (6-1 Junior Guard, 17.9 ppg)

24 Cammeron Woodyard (6-5 Senior Guard, 8.7 ppg)

25 Jon Graham (6-8 Freshman Forward, 3.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Trey Lewis (6-1 Freshman Guard, 5.1 ppg)

20 Nick Colella (6-3 Junior Guard, 1.8 ppg)

21 Sasa Borovnjak (6-9 Sophomore Forward, 4.8 ppg)

35 Billy Oliver (6-8 Junior Forward, 7.3 ppg)

43 Ross Travis (6-6 Freshman Forward, 4.5 ppg)

Last Time Out

Brust hit the big shots, Bruesewitz got the big rebounds and Berggren shut down true freshman Cody Zeller, all of which helped turn a game with 10 lead changes finally in their favor in a 57-50 victory over No.16 Indiana Thursday.

Not only do they have their first five-game winning streak in Big Ten play since Feb. 5-19, 2009 and their ninth straight win over the Hoosiers, the Badgers showed for the second time on their torrid stretch that it can win games when it gets outshot by their opponent.

How could he not, especially on a night where senior point guard Jordan Taylor goes 5 of 14 from the field and 0 of 5 from three-point range? Wisconsin (17-5, 6-3 Big Ten) certainly didn't shoot well, finishing at 39.6 percent, but got Brust to hit the big shots when they needed him to.

Even when his shooting was at a worse for wear, an 8-for-26 slump during UW's skid, Brust just kept firing. He knew it had to come eventually. After all, he was too good of a shooter not to find his groove.

But after showing he was more than a three-point marksman at Illinois – the first time he scored at least nine points a game without hitting a three-pointer – on Sunday, Brust went back to his comfort zone, hitting three three-pointers for the sixth time this season, but just the second time in Big Ten play. They came at the right time.

With Indiana (16-5, 4-5) threatening to pull away up five, Brust hit a three-pointer from the corner and came back three minutes later to hit another triple, giving UW a 41-39 lead with 9:22 to go.

He was also active in the paint - cutting through the lane to get a perfect pass from Bruesewitz that resulted in a wide-open layup on the right block – and opportunistic on the glass, grabbing his own offensive rebound with 1:34 remaining and UW leading 51-50.

That eventually led to a pair of Evans' free throws - two of his perfect 8-for-8 performance from the line and two of Wisconsin going 12-for-12 from the line after starting 3-for-7 - after he grabbed an offensive rebound. Evans finished with 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds.

In the final 3:36, the Hoosiers didn't have a rebound, as the Badgers grabbed the last seven boards of the game, or made a three-pointer in the final 5:39, a big surprise coming from a team that ranked second in the country in three-point shooting percentage (44.9 percent).

- By Benjamin Worgull,

Last Meeting

Twitter was ablaze with worthy one-liners of the pre-shot clock score as the Badgers fell 36-33 to the Nittany Lions, marking UW's third straight one-and-done exit from the Big Ten tournament, but it was Nittany Lion Talor Battle who delivered the best one of the night, albeit accidentally.

"It was an ugly, physical, Big Ten game," Talor Battle said in the understatement of the season.

The stats look like a misprint. Wisconsin missed 36 of 51 shots, including 19 of 21 threes. They shot three free throws on the day.

As unbelievably good as the Buckeyes were Sunday, the Badgers were that unbelievably bad Friday. Wisconsin scored two points in the first 10 minutes of the game. They finished the contest averaging 0.78 points per possession, an entire 0.4 lower than their season average.

It was the least points Wisconsin has ever scored under Bo Ryan, and the fewest for UW since they lost to Southwest Missouri State in the 1999 NCAA Tournament.

"To be honest with you, I walked off the court about as frustrated as I ever have been today," UW senior forward Keaton Nankivil said, finishing he game with three points on 1-of-4 shooting.

For a team that seemed hangover proof, UW was lit up for an 18-2 run to start the contest and never could recover despite Penn State scoring just 18 points over the final 30 minutes of the game.

Ryan grew so frustrated with his team that after four minutes of play he had subbed out the entire starting five and replaced them with two walk-ons, seldom used Jared Berggren along with Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz.

While Ryan likely was trying to make a motivational point to his starters rather than a strategic play, the lineup still gave up a bucket, committed a foul and turned the ball over in the span of two minutes the odd Badger combination saw the floor together.

"We just didn't have that energy we needed at the start of the game," UW senior forward Jon Leuer said. "We just came out stagnantly offensively, we weren't moving or cutting hard. Defensively we gave them to many good looks and gave up offensive rebounds, all the things you don't want to do. "We have to move on and not let it happen again."

Wisconsin held All-Big ten guard Battle to nine points on 18 shots and still couldn't figure out a way overcome the Lions with a toothless offense.

Battle eventually did enough to stave off the Badgers feeble comeback attempt, hitting a three with a little over two minutes to play putting PSU up five — a sizeable lead in this dead-ball era game.

Still, the Badgers were gifted two more good chances to lead or tie the game up in the final 60 seconds. Trailing by two, Taylor was sprung free for an open three at the top of the arc, but left it inches short (the theme to the game).

After Battle — a 76 percent free throw shooter — made just one of two free throws, Wisconsin had another chance with Taylor charging up the court.

The UW point guard's attempt came up well short, however, and making matters worse for Badger fans, Taylor appeared to have both Nankivil and Leuer open for threes with Taylor double/triple teamed.

"Just a bad decision," he said. "I made bad decisions all night."

- By Michael Bleach –

Series Notes:

UW has won 13 of the last 15 against PSU. Penn State's win at the Bryce Jordan Center last season snapped a streak of 12 consecutive losses to Wisconsin dating back to 2003.

The Badgers have won 6 of the last 7 meetings in State College. UW is 10-7 overall in games played at Penn State.

Bo Ryan, a native of Chester, Pa. is 15-4 vs. Penn State all-time. Ryan (Chester, Pa.) and PSU coach Pat Chambers (Newtown Square, Pa.) were raised in areas approximately 12 miles apart and about 20 minutes west of downtown Philadelphia and will square off for the first time.

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

PSU has averaged just 52.2 points per game over the last 15 meetings with UW.

Wisconsin Notes

The Badgers have won 5 straight games, their longest Big Ten win streak since 2008-09. The last time UW won 6 consecutive conference games was in the team's Big Ten championship season of 2007-08.

UW's 5-game win streak is also tied for the 3rd-longest active streak among the 6 BCS conferences. Only Kentucky (13) and Marquette (6) have longest current streaks.

Wisconsin is 6-3 at the mid-way point of the 2012 Big Ten season. This marks the 8th time in Bo Ryan's 11 seasons that UW has been 6-3 or better through the first 9 games.

One of the keys to Wisconsin's success has been its ability to finish games. The Badgers are a perfect 17-0 this season when leading or tied with 5:00 to go.

In UW's last two games, the Badgers have overcome second-half deficits to pull out the win. Wisconsin trailed 50-46 with 9:26 remaining at Illinois, but closed the game on a 23-13 run. UW then trailed 36-31 with 13:13 left vs. Indiana, but won 57-50.

Penn State Notes:

Wisconsin will mark the fourth-straight ranked opponent for Penn State in the last two weeks, the longest such string for any Big Six conference team this season and believed to be the longest in the nation this year. It will be the third time since 2005-06 the Lions will play four or more ranked opponents in succession. The Lions faced a program-record five-straight ranked foes (and 7 in 8 games) at the beginning of January last season, a string that marked the longest in the Big Ten last year. Penn State went 2-3 in last year's string and is 1-2 in its current stretch.

Tim Frazier has raised his scoring average by 11.6 ppg from last season (6.3 to 17.9), the most in the Big Ten this season and second-most since 1996-97. Frazier leads Big Ten in assists (11th in NCAA) and is second in scoring and steals.

Cam Woodyard led Penn State in scoring in the last two home games, including a career-high 22 points vs. Minnesota (1/15). He is scoring 11.9 ppg and shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from three in home games on the year.

Penn State graduated players that accounted for 80 percent of the scoring and nearly 70 percent of the rebounding from last year's NCAA Tournament team, including five seniors that accounted for 432 career starts and 581 career games played. Among them was all-time leading scorer Talor Battle who posted 2,213 points and led the Lions in scoring each of the past four seasons.

Forward Billy Oliver missed the last three games and is doubtful to play vs. Wisconsin. He hit a career-best 7-of-11 from three for a career-high 21 points vs. Purdue and leads the team with 34 threes on the year, taking 79 percent of his shots from behind the arc.


Ryan talked at great length Monday about how tough and how physical Penn State plays. It's evident by the stats that playing tough can only take a team so far. In Big Ten games, Penn State is allowing opponents to shoot 47.7 percent from the field, the worst defensive field goal percentage in the conference.

You see one constant looking at the Nittany Lions starting five – no player is taller than 6-9 and only one player is taller than 6-5. With the lack of size inside, it's no wonder Penn State has shot 34 percent or worse from the field in four of its last five games and in eight of 22 games this season, as the Nittany Lions can't get those consistent easy buckets in the low block.

As a result, Penn State has scored 54 points the last three games - only Nebraska has scored fewer points per game among Big Ten teams this season. With Wisconsin having one of the best defenses in the Big Ten, PSU would be lucky to hit that number again.

The key matchup is the point guard. Wisconsin's offense runs through senior guard Jordan Taylor; Penn State's through junior guard Tim Frazier. But how well these players get their teammates involved could be the difference in what figures to be a lower scoring game. Frazier has been carrying the offense while Taylor has allowed others to carry it for him. Another advantage to Wisconsin.

Combine the way Wisconsin has played on the road, how well they have played in the last three weeks and how one-dimensional Penn State is, Wisconsin should win this adventure by 14.

Worgull's Record: 18-4

Points off Prediction: 229 (10.41 per game)

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