MADISON — Penn State missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds to allow No. 11 Wisconsin to escape with a 51-49 win Saturday night at the Kohl Center.
Player of the Game: Steven Crowl
Wisconsin struggled mightily to shoot it again on Saturday but the Badgers center came through, especially in the second half. He scored 11 of his 13 points after the break, including going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. Two of those came in a 13-0 run that saw UW go from down 40-36 with 7:42 left to up 49-40 with 3:44 to go. He also had four assists, two of which happened in that run.
The Badgers improved to 10-0 when Crowl scores at least 10 points.
The Badgers have not been a great defensive team this year but they picked a good time to put forth one of their better efforts of the season. Penn State started out a miserable 5-for-30 from the field and scored just 13 points in the first half. Some of that can be attributed to poor shooting but Wisconsin did not make it easy. The Nittany Lions were able to catch fire at points in the second half but when the Badgers needed a stop – up 51-49 in the final seconds – they forced a tough 3-point look that did not fall.
Wisconsin scored a season-low 18 points in the first half and saw its two leading scorers – Johnny Davis and Brad Davison – go scoreless. The two would not end up getting on the board until the 13:10 mark of the second half when Davison hit a pair of free throws. He finished with nine points, including going 1-for-6 from beyond the arc. Davis scored just four points on 2-for-13 shooting, his worst offensive effort of the year.
Things went better for the team as a whole after the break as the Badgers managed to score 33 points and shoot 52% from the field.
Stat of the Game: 35
That is the scoring Wisconsin got from guys in the starting lineup not named Davis or Davison. Crowl had 13, Tyler Wahl added 12 and Chucky Hepburn had 10. Wahl had what proved to be the winning bucket in the final minute.
In a season in which Davis and Davison have averaged closed to 36 points per game, for others to step up was much needed and something coach Greg Gard noted afterward to his team.
“As I told (Davis) and Brad in front of everyone in the locker room, I said, ‘you guys have carried us a lot of nights. Tonight, it was everybody else’s turn to try to carry you and help the team,'” Gard said.
Wisconsin 18, Penn State 13. At the half. Not in football.
— Penn State’s flight to Wisconsin on Friday got canceled. The team did not actually arrive in Madison until 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, had a quick meal at the hotel and then bussed to the Kohl Center with the game starting a 5 p.m.
— Wisconsin improved to 11-1 in games decided by six points or fewer. It means just seven of their wins this year have come by more than that.
— The Badgers victory pushed them to 9-3 in Big Ten play, good enough to be in a tie with Purdue for second place and one game back of Illinois for first place. Michigan State is a ½ game back of Wisconsin and the Boilermakers at 8-3.
Wisconsin (18-4, 9-3,) will hit the road to face the Spartans (17-5, 8-3) on Tuesday night in East Lansing.