Josh Gasser scored a team-high 15 points, one of three Badgers in double figures, as Wisconsin outlasted Penn State, 71-66, at the Bryce Jordan Center Sunday afternoon for UW's seventh straight win and fifth straight road victory.
The victory guarantees another top four finish in the Big Ten for Wisconsin (24-5, 11-5 Big Ten), tying them with Purdue (1920-32) for 13 consecutive top four finishes in the conference. The Badgers have never finished lower than fourth with Bo Ryan at the helm and approve to 11-2 away from home, a new program record.
The Badgers led virtually the entire game – only trailing for 1 minute, 52 seconds in the first half – and used a balanced offense that had at least five players contribute nine points or more.
"Against a team like this it's good to get a lead and fortunately we didn't give it up, although a couple times we came close," said UW assistant coach Gary Close. "We made enough plays to beat a team who is very tough to beat in this place."
Although trailing by as many as 10 points in the second half, Penn State (14-15, 5-11) mounted multiple comebacks, closing the lead to one possession four times in the second half, the last coming with 18 seconds left at 66-64.
Traevon Jackson and Gasser iced the game from there, as Jackson went 4-for-4 from the line and Gasser went 1 of 2 with the game already decided.
"The way they had been playing, we knew this was going to be a dogfight," said Ryan. "I really got to give all our guys credit. They handle all the runs Penn State made. They handled it, made the free throws at the end and if you are going to beat a team like this on their home floor you've got to do that."
The starting backcourt of Gasser, Ben Brust (14) and Jackson (13) combined for 42 of Wisconsin's 71 points and the Badgers went 19-for-24 from the free throw line, compared to 9-for-13 from Penn State.
D.J. Newbill led all scorers with 23 points, but needed 23 shots to get there. He also committed a team-high four turnovers and shot 1-for-6 from 3-point range, as the Nittany Lions finished 1-for-13 from behind the arc. Wisconsin went 8-for-24 from 3-point range. Tim Frazier scored 10 points – six below his season average.
Now in a second-place tie with Michigan State, Wisconsin still has a remote chance to earn a share of the Big Ten title but will need to win out and have Michigan lose its final two games (at Illinois and vs. Indiana).