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Penn State 81, No. 14 Wisconsin 71: Lions End Decade-Long Futility Streak Against Badgers

Penn State got their first win over Wisconsin since the Ed DeChellis era.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports


No, we’re not talking about unlucky numbers. Rather, that’s the number of games in a row that Wisconsin had defeated Penn State. It was a streak going back all the way to March of 2011, ten years and two head coaches ago. Given the trajectory of both programs going into today’s clash, you had to imagine quite hard to believe that today would be the day PSU would end the skid.

The first half was a back-and-forth duel that saw hot shooting and several lead changes (eight in total). The largest lead either team held was by a measly four points. Every time one team seemed poised to take a more commanding lead, the other team would respond with a big-time shot or force a timely turnover. The Badgers held a 34-31 advantage at halftime, when the first 20 minutes were said and done.

The second half saw PSU ramp up the tempo, just the way they like it. Utilizing their athleticism and the Badgers’ lack of comfort plus a cold shooting streak from downtown, the Lions were able to claim and maintain their lead throughout the second half, thanks in large part to big-time plays by Myreon Jones, Izaiah Brockington, and John Harrar. Harrar especially, was clutch down the stretch, scoring on an unbelievable lay-up as he was fouled and completed the three-point play from the line to give PSU a nine-point lead with 2:30 left to play.

Wisconsin would try desperately to keep within striking distance but failed to connect and PSU did their part to force turnovers and clean up the defensive glass, as well as hit some critical free throws down the stretch, going up by as much as 11 points to ultimately pull off the huge upset win and end the decade-long futility streak.

Four Factors

Both teams shot the ball fairly well (PSU at 45 percent, Wisconsin 44 percent). The difference-makers were PSU’s forcing 12 turnovers, which was a season worst for a Badgers team that typically does an excellent job taking care of the ball. Additionally, the Lions got far more trips to the free throw line, connecting on 19 of their 25 trips, while the Badgers were six for eight at the charity stripe.

Player(s) of The Game

We’re honoring the trio of Jones, Brockington, and Harrar. Jones’ 20 points led all scorers, including a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown, while Brockington nearly had a double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Harrar was also in beast mode with 17 points and eight boards, himself. Their efforts played the largest role in helping PSU earn their biggest win of the season.

Random Observations

  • The Rim Fairy is a Cruel Mistress - In the final minute of the first half, Myreon drove to the lane for what looked like a go-ahead layup, but the ball stayed around the rim before falling off. The second half saw John Harrar go up for a one-handed slam on a fast break that would’ve given PSU a seven-point lead but was rejected by the rim.
  • Welcome Back, Sam! - After missing the previous game against Ohio State due to an ankle injury, Sam Sessoms was back in action as he came off the bench to nail a clutch pair of treys. With him and Myles Dread now available once again, PSU is back to full backcourt depth, and not a moment too soon, as Sam and Myles combined for a total of 15 points off the bench.
  • Back on the Bubble? - I’m sure Chris Taylor will wax eloquently about this tomorrow, but getting a scalp over a Top 15 Wisconsin team has to get PSU back into bubble discussion for the time being. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be anxiously awaiting Joe Lunardi’s next Bracketology to drop.

Up Next

An immediate re-match between the Lions and Badgers commences this coming Groundhog Day (February 2nd). Tipoff will be at 7:00 PM ET on BTN.