Preview: No.23 Wisconsin vs. Penn State

After taking care of business in the home conference opener, Wisconsin basketball takes to the road for its first of back-to-back conference road games during the next two weeks, starting off with junior Talor Battle and the Penn State Nittany Lions.

No.23 Wisconsin (11-2, 1-0 Big Ten) vs. Penn State (8-5, 0-1 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Sunday, January 3, at 1 p.m. Central

Arena – Bryce Jordan Center (15,261)

Television - Big Ten Network (Ari Wolfe and Jon Crispin)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas)

Series – UW Leads 23-8 (UW Leads 9-6 in State College)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 54-44, on Feb 8, 2009 in State College, PA

Wisconsin Probable Starters

3 Trevon Hughes (Senior Guard, 16.4 ppg)

12 Jason Bohannon (Senior Guard, 9.9 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Junior Forward, 3.5 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Junior Forward, 16.5 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Junior Forward, 7.9 ppg)

Off the Bench

5 Ryan Evans (Freshman Forward, 4.8 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (Sophomore Guard, 8.5 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Sophomore Forward, 2.9 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Freshman Center, 1.9 ppg)

Penn State Probable Starters

12 Talor Battle (Junior Guard, 19.1 ppg)

15 David Jackson (Junior Forward, 8.0 ppg)

22 Andrew Jones (Junior Forward, 7.2 ppg)

23 Tim Frazier (Freshman Guard, 7.6 ppg)

25 Jeff Brooks (Junior Forward, 8.1 ppg)

Off the Bench

10 Chris Babb (Sophomore Guard, 7.6 ppg)

11 Bill Edwards (Freshman Forward, 7.0 ppg)

14 Adam Highberger (Junior Guard, 4.7 ppg)

54 Andrew Ott (Junior Forward, 3.0 ppg)

Last Meeting:

Marcus Landry scored 13 points, Jon Leuer added 12 and Wisconsin clamped down on Penn State high-scoring guard Talor Battle in the Badgers' 54-44 win.

Forwards Landry and Leuer did just enough around the bucket for Wisconsin (14-9, 5-6 Big Ten) to win its second straight. They got shots in the lane before the Badgers got a key 3 from an open Jason Bohannon in the left corner to take a 43-34 lead with five-plus minutes left.

Bohannon finished with eight.

Battle was the Big Ten's leading scorer coming into the weekend. He was held to 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting.

The Badgers' harassing defense held Penn State (17-7, 6-5) without a bucket on 14 3-point attempts for the afternoon, including six misses by Battle.

Last Time Out:

With leading scorer Jon Leuer spending most of the final 16 minutes of the first half on the bench because of foul trouble, the simple goal for the Badgers would seem to be keep it simple and regroup for the second half.

Accepting defeat, however, is and never had been an option for Hughes.

Hughes scored 13 of his game-high 16 points during a decisive first-half stretch that helped No.23 Wisconsin distance itself without one of its best players, providing too much offense for No.15 Ohio State to handle in a 65-43 blowout Thursday afternoon in Madison.

The victory gives UW (11-2) its seventh consecutive win in a Big Ten opener, the longest active streak in the league, and gives the Badgers a win in their 11th straight home conference opener.

Drawing the challenging task of guarding Ohio State junior David Lighty, the Big Ten's Player of the Week after scoring a career-high 30 points his last time out against Cleveland State, Leuer picked up two quick fouls, forcing him to the bench with 15 minutes, 51 seconds left in the half.

With the 17-points-per-game scorer relegated to spectator status, Wisconsin's other big-time scoring threat happily took the burden.

Already having five points before Leuer's exited with the game score locked at seven, Hughes quickly asserted himself offensively. He hit a deep three-pointer, one of his three made perimeter shots of the half, in front of the Buckeyes' bench to push the lead to 12-8.

After sophomore William Buford's made short jumper at 11:55, Hughes scored the next five, including a heads-up steal on Buford after a defensive rebound, turning it into an easy lay up.

That play put some pop into UW, as Hughes, Wilson and Nankivil each hit a deep three-pointer on the next three possessions to spur the Badgers, without Leuer's contributions, to a 16-2 run.

"That was fun watching those guys go out there and just compete and execute like they did," Leuer said. "I was really enjoying my spot on the bench watching that. I felt like a fan cheering them on."

Ohio State (10-3) didn't help matters by not having a made field goal from Buford's bucket to the 4:08 mark, only managing a pair of P.J. Hill free throws during the stretch that did little to stop the bleeding.

The Buckeyes, who got 14 points from Buford and 10 from Lighty, managed to chip the lead down to as little as seven late in the first half and began the second half down only nine, but the only problem was a fresh Leuer was ready to make up for lost time.

Leuer scored nine of UW's first 11 second-half points, including a deep three from the top of the key on the first possession, that quickly ballooned the lead to 18. After a soft mid-range jumper fell for his 11th and final point at 12:06, the UW lead was 20, Matta needed a timeout and the Buckeyes were planted.

Series Notes:

UW has beaten PSU 10 consecutive times with the average margin of victory averaging 20.2 points per game. Penn State has averaged only 50.8 points per game over the last 10 meetings. The last time UW lost to PSU was a 57-58 decision at Penn State on Feb. 19, 2003.

Last season, UW posted a 54-44 victory in the BJC and a 65-61 victory in Wisconsin, the closest two games in the current skid.

Wisconsin Notes:

In the last meeting, UW forced also Penn State into a 0-for-14 shooting day from behind the 3-point arc. That marked the first game since Nov. 23, 2002 that PSU failed to make a 3-point basket.

The Badgers has also held PSU standout Talor Battle well below his scoring average in all four meetings. In those games, Battle has averaged 8.3 points on 26.5 percent (13-49) shooting and 16.0 percent (4-25) from behind the arc.

The Badgers have won five straight Big Ten road openers.

Penn State Notes:

Penn State is 3-3 in Big Ten home openers under coach Ed DeChellis and 7-10 overall.

Penn State has won three of its last five games vs. ranked opponents and went 4-4 overall in eight meetings with ranked foes last season. The Lions went 2-1 at home vs. ranked opponents knocking off No. 14 Purdue and No. 23 Illinois and falling to No. 7 Michigan State.

Penn State is 6-1 at home this year, shooting better than 53% in back-to-back home games to close out the non-conference season, including a Dec. 21 victory over American.

After struggling with inconsistent three-point shooting for much of the non-conference season, Penn State has hit 30-61 (49 percent) from three in its last three games while averaging 10 threes per game.

Worgull's Prediction

There's two constants that I look at for this game - Wisconsin's defense has always been stellar against Penn State and always against Battle, as the numbers above will back up. Wisconsin's defensive effort against Ohio State Thursday was impressive, limiting one of the highest scoring offenses in the conference to almost 40 points below its average. I don't care if Evan Turner was dressed in street clothes, 40 points is 40 points.

Other than Battle, Penn State doesn't have much, which means the Nittany Lions will fall if you cut off the head of their dragon, which UW had historically done. With no real weapons surrounding him, that job should be slightly easier than in past years. Penn State has lost four games on the season by five points or less and its total of five losses have come by an average of just 4.7 points. Against Minnesota in the opener, PSU overcame an 11-point deficit and led by as many as five in the second half, but couldn't overcome a season-high 16 turnovers on 11 steals (oh yeah, that Lawrence Westbrook guy had a career-best 29 points ... argh).

UW's defense should have a field day here, but will need to play composed on the road. Recent games give me no doubts that UW will do just that, flying home Sunday with a 12-point victory.

Worgull's Record: 9-4

Points off Prediction: 173 (13.3 per game)

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