The Badgers were able to shake off every run the Nittany Lions brought at them, en route to a 65-61 victory.
Marcus Landry led Wisconsin (11-3, 2-0 Big Ten) with a career-high 23 points. Jason Bohannon added 14 points, while Trevon Hughes scored 10 points and Joe Krabbenhoft registered his second double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
For the second straight game, Wisconsin capitalized on putting its defensive attention on the opposing team's top scorer. After holding Michigan's Manny Harris - entering the game as the conference's leading scorer - to nine points on 3-of-13 shooting, Wisconsin limited Penn State's Talor Battle – who also came into the game as the Big Ten's new leading scorer – to six points on 2-of-11 shooting.
However, Battle's backcourt mate Stanley Pringle picked up the scoring slack. The senior guard scored a game high 26 points. He was unconscious from behind the arc, nailing 4-of-6 3-pointers.
And a big handful of Pringle's points came in the clutch, too. After Wisconsin extended its lead to eight points with 9:34 remaining in the second half, Pringle and Battle teamed up to hit four 3-pointers on Penn State's next four possessions as the Lions (12-3, 1-1 Big Ten) quickly regained the lead at 49-48 in less than two minutes.
"In four of their straight possessions, there were 12 points," said UW head coach Bo Ryan, who is now 9-0 in conference home openers and 11-2 against Penn State. "Anytime you can do that … I mean, most teams don't recover from that."
But Wisconsin was able to recover. While the game stayed neck-and-neck heading into the final timeout, the Badgers were able to extend the lead back to five after a clutch 3-pointer by Hughes and a pair of free throws by Krabbenhoft to go up 59-54 with 1:53 remaining.
Still, Pringle was able to answer right back and drain any shot he put up. With just under a minute remaining he hit another 3-pointer with a man in his face to pull with Lions within 61-60.
In the end, though, the Badgers were able to grind it out. Landry hit a clutch turnaround jumper in the post that he kissed off the glass to put Wisconsin up 63-60. And then after Penn State needed to stop the clock with seven seconds remaining, Hughes was able to find Landry cutting to the basket, who flushed home the dunk that put the exclamation point on a close 65-61 win.
"They did what they had to do, they made a big shot," said Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis of Wisconsin. "We missed a big shot on one end and they made a big shot on the other end. In a possession-game, that's what it comes down to."
"I thought we made some big shots as well down the stretch," he added, "but we didn't make one when we needed to."
With the win, Wisconsin takes the very early lead of the Big Ten standings with a 2-0 conference record. But the Badgers' don't expect the road to a title repeat to be easy – not with teams gunning for them as reigning champs, and not with the improved play around the league.
"We're proud to call ourselves Big Ten champs, but that was last year," Krabbenhoft said. "We want that – for teams to come at us. But we also want to let teams to know that we're going to be coming at them, that we're going to be the aggressor every game and that we're going to impose our will."