Whistling the same tune since meeting reporters on day one, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan had a feeling that the Badgers were going to be more balanced team in 2007-08, receiving scoring output from any given player on any given night.
Tuesday night at State College, it was Michael Flowers' turn to contribute.
Playing 35 minutes, Flowers, starting for the ninth-straight game, delivered a clinic against Penn State, shooting 9-of-12 from the floor, grabbing six rebounds, dishing five assists and scoring a season-high 23 points in Wisconsin's 80-55 victory.
"He's such a dynamic scorer and a dynamic player," Joe Krabbenhoft said of Flowers. "He does so many different things in so many different ways to help the team -- steals, 3-point shots today, driving to the hoop, finding others. When he's clicking, he's as good as anybody."
"It was definitely fun to see your teammates be successful and when you can contribute to that same success that definitely helps," senior Greg Stiemsma added. "I don't know what Mike was, but I don't know if he missed tonight. It didn't seem like it. He hit some big shots for us and picked up some of the scoring."
In all four conference games this season, the Badgers have had a different 20-plus point scorer (Leuer, Butch, Hughes, Flowers).
"It was a classic Wisconsin basketball game again. Another guy stepped up," said senior Brian Butch. "I've been saying it all along that there are going to be different guys stepping up every single night."
Regarded as one of the better defensive players in the Big Ten, Flowers only had one steal Tuesday night, but it was a beauty.
Guarding Penn State junior Stanley Pringle, Flowers simply ripped the ball out of his hands and took the ball the length of the court for an easy lay-up.
Playing his average of 11 minutes per game, Stiemsma, like Flowers, was practically perfect in all areas. The senior center went 4-for-4 from the field, 2-for-2 from the free throw line, corralled three boards and blocked three shots - extending his team lead to 23. Stiemsma's 10 points against Penn State tied a season high from when he scored 10 points against Savannah State.
"People will see the 10 points," UW coach Bo Ryan said of Stiemsma. "(But) he did a nice job defensively on making them change some shots and making sure people couldn't get to the rim. So there's another senior that contributed quite a bit."
After ESPN put No.17 Wisconsin's game on an upset watch, even though they had beaten PSU six straight times, the Badgers made sure the flatten any chance of an upset before it started brewing. Starting the game off right with a Flowers three-point bucket, Wisconsin got a layup from Butch and a three-pointer from Joe Krabbenhoft on its next two possessions to start the game off with an 8-0 run. UW didn't stop there, as the visitors turned an 8-0 run into a 19-4 streak over the next six minutes.
That was not the only running UW did Tuesday night. After PSU cut the Badger lead to 12 with just less than 12 minutes left in the second half, Wisconsin ripped off a 19-0 run to put any chance of an upset to rest.
"It's tough to keep a lead because for some reason as players you just don't pay attention to detail as much as you normally do," Butch said. "That's just the way it is. You look at any big lead that any team has, it doesn't last that long. For us to come back and hit some bit shots and do what we do normally, I think says a lot about the character of our team."
Claxton's Career Over
PSU's Geary Claxton, the Big Ten's second leading scorer, went down with a leg injury after fighting for a rebound on the offensive end with 13:10 remaining. Claxton walked off under his own power, headed to the locker room and did not return.
Penn State team doctor Wayne Sebastianelli said the preliminary indication is a torn ACL - an injury that takes a minimum of six months to rehab. Claxton will undergo an MRI Wednesday morning to determine if there is any other damage in the knee.
"It is devastating for Geary," Lion coach Ed DeChellis said. "I went in there at halftime and told him I loved him and hugged him. He's been such a great kid for us … But we have to figure out what our next move is and regroup as a team."
Wisconsin shot 60 percent (31-52) from the field, 55.6 percent (10-for-18) from three-point range and nearly 90 percent from the free throw line. The Badgers also out-rebounded the Nittany Lions 41-22, leading to a 34-18 advantage in points in the paint.
Jamelle Cornley led PSU with 13 points and four rebounds. The Nittany Lions tallied only eight assists, but did total four steals on the night.