Another tough road environment, another escape act for a Wisconsin team that continues to steamroll through the Big Ten.
Fifth-ranked Wisconsin, which led by as many as 14 points, saw its lead cut to five before pulling away for a 55-47 victory against Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday night. UW (24-2, 12-1) has won nine consecutive Big Ten games, the longest conference winning streak for the program since 1940-41. Penn State dropped to 15-12 overall, 3-11 in the Big Ten.
"Hey, Penn State’s right there," Badgers coach Bo Ryan said after the game. "Pat (Chambers) has done an unbelievable job trying to work through a couple injuries and getting his guys playing so hard. That’s as hard as any team we’ve played right there. There’s no question about it."
1 big moment: Penn State cut its deficit to 48-43 with 4:09 remaining in the game on Geno Smith’s layup. After Badgers center Frank Kaminsky and point guard Bronson Koenig missed a pair of jump shots, Penn State had an opportunity to bring the score to within one possession.
But Nittany Lions guard D.J. Newbill tripped over his teammate’s foot off a screen, Kaminsky stole the pass and converted two free throws at the other end to give Wisconsin a 50-43 lead with 3:07 remaining. Penn State was never closer than seven points for the rest of the game.
2 top performances: Badgers forward Sam Dekker scored in double figures for the 10th consecutive game, and he tallied a career-high 22 points against Penn State. Dekker eclipsed his previous high of 21 on a putback dunk with 6:17 remaining in the game after Zak Showalter’s driving miss, which gave Wisconsin a 48-34 lead. Dekker, who scored 13 first-half points to help the Badgers take a 31-24 halftime lead, finished 9 of 13 from the field, including 3 of 6 on 3-pointers.
Kaminsky also did nothing to dissuade voters for his national player of the year candidacy. He totaled 16 points and nine rebounds — near his average this season of 17.4 points and 8.4 boards. Kaminsky also scored six of Wisconsin’s final seven points to help seal the victory.
3 key stats: Penn State’s D.J. Newbill scored 29 points on 13-of-21 shooting. The rest of Penn State’s team made just 8 of 33 field goal attempts and scored 18 points.
— Badgers forward Nigel Hayes matched a career-high with 13 rebounds against the Nittany Lions. He also recorded 13 boards this season against Chattanooga and California. Hayes added nine points Wednesday night.
— Wisconsin won despite zero points once again from its bench. UW reserves Duje Dukan, Zak Showalter and Vitto Brown combined to shoot 0 for 4 from the field. Over the last four games, Wisconsin’s bench has scored a total of 10 points on 3-of-23 shooting from the field.
Said: "You almost have to play a perfect game against Wisconsin to have a chance to beat them. We talked about their incredible offensive stats and how well they take care of the basketball. They don’t beat themselves. If they get offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities, they’re going to be tough to beat." — Stephen Bardo on BTN in the second half.
"We kept our composure. There were a couple times there where I was afraid we were going to fray a little bit and maybe get out of character, but that was quickly squelched. We just stayed true to form. We had 1.2-some points per possession in the first half, and we went 10 minutes without scoring. So how do you do that? You only do that one way. Maintain your composure." — Badgers coach Bo Ryan to Bardo after the game.
Next: Wisconsin plays host to Minnesota at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Kohl Center. The two teams split a pair of games last season, with Minnesota beating Wisconsin 81-68 in Minneapolis and Wisconsin winning 78-70 at home.