Preview: Penn State vs. No.18 Wisconsin

After struggling to find its shot to an ugly win over Michigan, No.18 Wisconsin looks to earn another home victory over struggling Penn State, a team that is struggling to find its first Big Ten Conference victory.

Penn State (8-10, 0-6 Big Ten) vs. No.18 Wisconsin (15-4, 5-2)

Date/Time - Sunday, January 24, at 1:30 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,220)

Television - Big Ten Network (Gus Johnson and Shon Morris)

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

Series – UW Leads 24-8 (UW Leads 13-2 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 63-46, at Penn State, Jan. 3, 2010

Wisconsin Probable Starters

3 Trevon Hughes (Senior Guard, 16.1 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (Sophomore Guard, 8.7 ppg)

12 Jason Bohannon (Senior Guard, 10.6 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Junior Forward, 3.0 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Junior Forward, 7.4 ppg)

Off the Bench

5 Ryan Evans (Freshman Forward, 4.5 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Sophomore Forward, 3.0 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Freshman Forward, 1.3 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Freshman Center, 1.4 ppg)

Penn State Probable Starters

10 Chris Babb (Sophomore Guard, 7.7 ppg)

12 Talor Battle (Junior Guard, 18.6 ppg)

15 David Jackson (Junior Forward, 8.0 ppg)

23 Tim Frazier (Freshman Guard, 6.3 ppg)

54 Andrew Ott (Junior Forward, 4.1 ppg)

Off the Bench

11 Bill Edwards (Freshman Forward, 7.0 ppg)

14 Adam Highberger (Junior Guard, 4.7 ppg)

22 Andrew Jones (Junior Forward, 5.8 ppg)

25 Jeff Brooks (Junior Forward, 8.1 ppg)

Last Meeting:

Playing their typically tough defense and methodical offense, No. 23 Wisconsin felt right at home in Happy Valley.

It didn't matter much Sunday that the Badgers' leading scorer, Jon Leuer, spent much of the afternoon on the bench with foul trouble. Trevon Hughes scored 18 points and the Badgers took advantage of open perimeter looks to defeat Penn State 63-46 for their sixth straight victory.

Battle had 15, while Jackson added 13 points and five rebounds for Penn State, which lost its 11th straight to Wisconsin (12-2, 2-0 Big Ten) going back to 2003.

As usual, Battle was the Nittany Lions' top option, but rarely found easy looks with Hughes and fellow guards Jason Bohannon and Jordan Taylor defending him. Jackson gave Penn State (8-6, 0-2) a spark with scrappy play around the bucket.

Otherwise, coach Ed DeChellis' Nittany Lions became the latest to succumb to Wisconsin's defense. The Badgers entered Sunday allowing 57.2 points a game, best in the Big Ten.

Last Time Out:

Everything that could go wrong was going wrong for No.18 Wisconsin but Wilson scored 11 of his career-high 13 points in the second half to turn the tide, helping the Badgers register a furious comeback to overcome Michigan, 54-48.

"We see glimpses of that in practice, and we know (Wilson is) a great player," said Hughes, who led the Badgers with 20 points. "It took him all season for him to come out and play with us, and we needed it. He brought it out."

Wilson had been quiet for the majority of the season for Wisconsin, averaging only 9.6 minutes and 2.4 points in a reserve role. He had never eclipsed double digits in scoring (previous career-high of nine), but had chipped in with rebounding, defense and assists during his marginal time on the court.

But with his team starting the game missing 12 of its first 13 shots, including the opening eight, Wisconsin trailed by as many as 11, the biggest deficit the Badgers had faced at home all season, Wilson started to perk up after UW called a timeout at that nine-minute mark in the second half to settle the troops. The sophomore promptly hit a three-pointer, a bucket that started a string of seven consecutive points from Wilson that cut the Michigan lead to 39-37.

"Whatever he can give us, it's great to have," Ryan said. "The teammates are always appreciative of everybody's efforts. Rob did a great job of recognizing what it was he could do to contribute to the team … We need somebody to hit shots … (and) that (three) was really huge."

After Wilson finally squared the contest at 43, hitting two free throws at 4:04, a quick 6-0 run made sure the Badgers wouldn't have to deal with another deficit, thanks to the senior leadership of Hughes, who carried the team in crunch time once again. Hitting a deep jumper at 3:07 to give UW its first lead, Hughes grabbed the defensive rebound, drove to the rim and delivered a left-hand lay-in for a 47-43 lead with 2:16 left.

Next to Wilson, Hughes was the key to Wisconsin's resurgence, scoring 16 points in the second half to spark UW.

Series Notes:

The Badgers have beaten the Nittany Lions 11 consecutive times and the average margin of victory in those 11 wins has been a dominating 19.9 points per game.

Penn State has averaged only 50.4 points per game over the last 11 meetings with UW. The last time Wisconsin lost to PSU was a 57-58 decision at Penn State on Feb. 19, 2003.

Bo Ryan, a native of Chester, Pa. is 12-2 vs. Penn State and is a perfect 11-0 vs. PSU head coach Ed DeChellis.

Wisconsin Notes:

With a win over Penn State, Bo Ryan would tie Branch McCracken as the second-fastest coach in conference history to record 100 Big Ten wins, doing so in 140 games

The Badgers are 11-0 at home this season and own a 16-game home winning streak overall. This season, UW's average margin of victory at home is 20.0 points per game. UW is shooting 47.5 percent at the Kohl Center, opponents are shooting just 37.4 percent.

UW's 74.5 percent free throw shooting (277-of-372) is number one in the Big Ten. That would rank as the second-highest mark in school history (the school record is .758 set in 1983-84).

Under Bo Ryan, UW is 156-37 all-time when winning the turnover battle. The Badgers ranked fourth in the nation in fewest turnovers a year ago, equaling a school record with just 10.0 turnovers per game. UW also set a Big Ten single-season record for fewest turnovers during 2009 conference play, with just 9.3 per game.

Penn State Notes:

Penn State has lost it's last three games by an average of 3.3 ppg and its 10 games on the season by 5.9 ppg.

Junior All-Big Ten guard Talor Battle is ONE OF TWO PLAYERS in the six BCS Conferences that leads his team in points (18.6), rebounds (5.4 rpg), assists (3.5 apg) and steals (1.1 spg). Oregon State's Seth Tarver is the other. Battle ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring, 14th in rebounding, ninth in assists and just out of the top 15 in steals, which ends at 1.22.

Penn State has out-rebounded ALL SIX of its Big Ten opponents on the year (including a 40-31 advantage at Illinois and 41- 35 over Indiana).

Ott is coming off career highs of 13 points and seven rebounds on 6-of-9 shooting in 24 minutes of Penn State's 67-61 loss to Indiana on Thursday.

Worgull's Prediction

Whether you are the top team in the Big Ten or the worst, Wisconsin doesn't discriminate defensively.

The Badgers held the Nittany Lions to 23.8 points fewer than their season average of 69.8 points per game and Michigan State 28.4 points below their league-leading 82.4 points per game. That doesn't bold well for Penn State, which have struggled historically in Madison and are off to a winless start in the conference.

Penn State's biggest weapon is Battle, but the Badgers wouldn't know that. The Badgers have held Battle well below his scoring average in all four meetings. In those games, Battle has averaged 9.6 points on 29.2 percent (19-65) shooting and 18.8 percent (6-32) from behind the arc.

Wisconsin can't afford to keep shooting bricks, especially with Purdue and Michigan State coming up the next two games, but I have a feeling the home team can throw up enough bricks to build a four bedroom condo and still survive Penn State. I doubt a Bo Ryan team would do that two games in a row, which means the Badgers will come out fired up and win this conference game by 17.

Worgull's Record: 14-5

Points off Prediction: 202 (10.6 per game)

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