Coming off a tough loss at Rutgers, Penn State found themselves seeking to not allow the losing skid to go beyond one. Unfortunately, a game against a Wisconsin program that PSU hasn’t defeated since Ed DeChellis was coaching in Happy Valley probably wasn’t the best remedy.
The game started with both teams misfiring on the game’s first 19 attempts from the floor, before Wisconsin’s Micah Potter caught fire and the Badgers jumped out to a 10-0 start. After an 0-for-12 start shooting, PSU would finally get on the board when Lamar Stevens’ and-one jumper went down with 11:24 left in the half. The Nittany Lions would spend the rest of the half going back and forth between trailing by high single digits and double digits, thanks to a lack of ability to force their pace on the Badgers, and the old bad habits of standing around on offense while one guy attempted to make a play happen. To only be trailing 31-22 at the half seemed like a minor miracle, of sorts.
The second half saw Stevens pick up the scoring slack, along with Izaiah Brockington and Myreon Jones, to whittle the deficit as close as four, but could never get any closer as missed three-pointers and Wisconsin hitting some timely shots kept the Lions at bay. The team now heads into Minneapolis next week desperately seeking to avoid a three-game losing skid, and prevent a once promising season from going off the rails, and with it, their NCAA Tournament hopes.
PPP and Four Factors
Those PPP and efficient FG percentage numbers...WOOF. Hard to expect a win when you shoot poorly. What really killed PSU though, was the fact Wisconsin dictated the tempo of this game, not allowing the Nittany Lions to push the pace and make it an up-and-down kind of game.
- Mike Watkins is going to need to look like his old self if PSU is going to get back on the winning track. He absolutely cannot disappear like he did today and last Tuesday against Rutgers.
- While losing a pair of games is not a death knell by any means, it’s hard not to look at the remaining schedule for January (at Minnesota, Ohio State, at Michigan, Indiana) and think that another epic January collapse is on the horizon. I suppose it’s a good thing the team loaded up on some big wins in November, December, and the first weekend of January, so they may have a fighting chance at still making the NCAA Tournament if they turn things around starting in February (as they did the last couple years, following a bad January)
- No team in the Big Ten has owned Penn State like Wisconsin. You have to go back to March 2011, when Ed DeChellis was finishing his last season as head coach, to find the last time PSU won. The time before that? February 2003, when Jerry Dunn was finishing up a second straight seven-win season before resigning in March of that same year.
The soon-to-be unranked Nittany Lions (12-4, 2-3) will hit the road, as they will play at Minnesota this coming Wednesday night. Tip-off will be at 9:00 PM ET on BTN.