Game Day Grades: Penn State

MADISON - Hitting 11 triples and leading from start to finish, No.15 Wisconsin tightened its hold on fourth place in the Big Ten by beating last-place Penn State, 65-55, Sunday. Badger Nation hands out the grades.

Offense: B-

Wisconsin came out firing against Penn State - jumping out to a double-digit lead by knocking down the three-pointers. At one point in the first half, the Badgers went on a stretch where they knocked down five consecutive three-pointers. Jared Berggren got the streak from distance going by knocking down the first one. Josh Gasser followed suit by knocking down the next three. Ben Brust hit the last three of five consecutive three's made. The Badgers went 11-for-22 from distance against Penn State.

Wisconsin shot the ball much better today then they did against the Spartans on Thursday night. UW went 20-for-47 (42.6 percent) from the field – the first time in the last six games they finished over 40 percent shooting - and also went 14-for-17 from the charity stripe.

The Badgers had four starters reach double figures with Gasser leading the way with 15 points. Berggren was second with 13 points, Ryan Evans and Jordan Taylor each had 11 points.

Wisconsin struggled to get points in the paint – getting out scored 36-8 in the low post – and could have done a better job of taking care of the basketball, finishing with 12 turnovers. At times the Badgers got careless with the basketball but the Nittany Lions did a good job of taking away passing lanes, which forced the Badgers into bad passes.

Defense: B-

This grade would have been higher but the Badgers blew a 20-point lead with 11:57 left in the game. Penn State was able to cut the lead to five but that was the closest the Nittany Lions got.

The Badgers had trouble containing Tim Frazier. Frazier had a game-high 20 points and he was able to cut through the Badgers defense to score points at the rim, one of the main reasons why Penn State got back in the game.

The Badgers did hold the Nittany Lions to 22-for-56 (39.3 percent) shooting. The Nittany Lions also only managed to make four three pointers. The Badgers did force Penn State into five turnovers and they were able to get six points off the turnovers.

The Badgers managed to limit the Nittany Lions to only seven offensive rebounds in the game. Overall the Badgers held the Nittany Lions to 24 rebounds.

The Badgers did not do a good job of defending the paint today against Penn State. The Nittany Lions were able to get down low and score 32 points. Penn State was able to consistently get in to the paint with dribble penetration, something UW will need to fix with two tough road games coming up.

Overall: B

This is a type of game Gasser needed. Gasser had been struggling of late to get into an offensive rhythm but he definitely found one, going 3-for-5 from distance and knocked down all six of his free throws. This game should give him some confidence in his offensive game.

Evans had another good game, finishing one rebound shy of having another double-double. He also shot a high percentage from the field going 4-for-7. You can tell that Evans is very comfortable with his game now. When he has the ball in his hands, you no longer feel like he may turn the ball over like last year.

One of the other main reasons the Nittany Lions were able to get back in the game was the Badgers went on a scoring drought. The Badgers went 5:14 without scoring and 6:22 without a field goal. That ended when Berggren knocked down a three to make the score 54-46. I know every team goes through scoring slumps but Wisconsin needs to figure out how to get through them.

Wisconsin did a good job pulling down 37 rebounds and get eight points off 10 offensive rebounds. Mike Bruesewitz was a rebounding machine with a career-high 12 rebounds. He clearly was determined to get the ball each time there was a miss.

The Badgers got eight points from their bench. Brust led the way with six points and Frank Kaminsky chipped in two points.

Game MVP: Bruesewitz. The game MVP could have gone to Gasser but Bruesewitz did a lot of everything against Penn State. He only had seven points and didn't necessarily shoot the ball a lot (2-for-5 shooting), but he did the things that mattered that will help teams win games.

He was able to grab 12 rebounds and had four offensive rebounds, which helped Wisconsin get extra possessions against Penn State. He also managed to dish out five assists and hit down his free throws down the stretch, which helped out close the game for the Badgers.

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