Game Day Grades: Penn State

STATE COLLEGE, PA. - In the Big Ten, you take a road win any way you can get them. On Tuesday night, No.19 Wisconsin got one in a gritty, ugly way, out slugging scrappy Penn State to earn a six-point victory. Badger Nation hands out the grades.

Offense: C

Wisconsin struggled to get into an offensive rhythm in the first half and could not really get into an offensive rhythm at all during the game. Wisconsin had too many stretches where they went without a field goal, resulting in the team going 17-for-48 (35.4 percent) from the field.

Wisconsin likes the three-point shot but when it's not falling for them, it's not falling at all. They went 5-for-19 (26.3 percent) from distance. When the three isn't falling, it's not good offense for the Badgers.

Wisconsin ended up with two players in double figures - Jordan Taylor led the way with 18 points on an off-shooting night and Ryan Evans added 11 points.

Wisconsin struggled to get the ball down low in the first half but trailing by six early in the second half, the Badgers made it an emphasis of getting the ball to Jared Berggren in the low block. As a result, Berggren scored six of the first eight points in the second half, giving UW a needed lift from a comatose first half.

Another big lift for Wisconsin came from Rob Wilson and Frank Kaminsky, who each hit a three pointer in the second half to help open up the game for the Badgers.

Defense: B-

Wisconsin struggled to stop Penn State in transition, which led to some easy points and an 11-0 edge in fastbreak points for the Nittany Lions. This is concerning because during the Badgers losing streak, they struggled to get players back in transition. The second half was better - making sure any possible passing lane was closed during transitions – but it's something that needs to be there for all 40 minutes against Ohio State.

The Badgers also struggled to get rebounds against Penn State despite having the size advantage. Nitanny Lions had 32 rebounds to the Badgers' 28, including a 12-9 edge in offensive rebounds. The reason why Penn State out rebounded the Badgers was because the Nittany Lions boxed out well and showed more aggressiveness in getting to 50-50 ball than the Badgers did at times.

Wisconsin allowed two Penn State players in double figures. Tim Frazier led the way with 21 points and Jermaine Marshall had 13 points, 10 coming in the first half. Luckily for Wisconsin, Penn State also didn't shoot the ball well, going 18-for-50 (36.0 percent).

Wisconsin made the Nitanny Lions cough the ball up nine times, six coming off of steals, and continued doing a good job of not fouling. The Badgers had a total of 13 team fouls and the Nittany Lions went 8-for-14 from the free throw line.

Overall: B

Wisconsin definitely did not play well but played well enough to beat last-place Penn State in a game it had to win. Even though they shot the ball poorly, Wisconsin continues to take care of the basketball, finishing with only five turnovers.

When Berggren was taken out in the second half for Kaminsky, I questioned whether it was a good idea because Berggren had been playing so well. It turned out to be a good move, as Kaminsky played well in his seven minutes of action by hitting a big three. Kaminsky is definitely becoming more comfortable with the Badgers' offense and it'll be exciting to see how Kaminsky develops over the next three years.

Wisconsin has been on a blocking spree of late. Again verse Penn State, the Badgers had six blocked shots. Berggren had two blocks while Kaminsky, Wilson, Evans and Mike Bruesewitz each had a blocked shot.

Wisconsin had eight offensive rebounds tonight. The Badgers were able to get nine points off of their second chance opportunities.

Game MVP: Taylor. After another first-half clunker, Taylor came up big for the Badgers when he was needed. Taylor was able to knock down the shots the Badgers needed and made his free throws down the stretch to close out the game.

Taylor did not shoot the ball well - going 4-for-12 (33 percent) from the floor – and forced some shots, but he went 8-for-10 from the free throw line. Taylor also had his typical Badger performance by dishing out five assists to zero turnovers, and dove repeatedly on the floor for loose balls.

Taylor made sure the ball was in his hands down the stretch and scored all 13 of his second-half points in the last 5:07 of the game. Of all those points, none was bigger than the critical three to put UW up 43-38 with 1:51 left in the game.

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