The No. 19 University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (20-9, 12-6 Big Ten) defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions (12-17, 5-13) at the Kohl Center Saturday afternoon 61–57. The Badgers — who have consistently found themselves in close games of late — managed to secure their ninth win in their last 12 games.
The story of the game was the play of Wisconsin’s bench, which was led by Brevin Pritzl. The junior posted 17 points off the bench and went 5-for-5 from the field, including 4-for-4 from beyond the arc.
“I was just feeding off of everyone else,” Pritzl said. “I kind of just snuck around, and got the open shots.”
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Wisconsin struggled on the offensive end for much of the first half, going 9-for-25 as a team before making their last three shots. Ethan Happ missed his first six shots in the game before finally getting a basket to fall with just under six minutes remaining. Brad Davison also shot just 1-for-5 in the half, including two air-balled 3-pointers.
The Badgers weren’t able to get much going on either end of the floor in the first half and went into the break trailing 33–26. The team’s offensive struggles were met with defensive setbacks as well, as the Nittany Lions went 13-for-29 from the field, including 4-for-7 from three in the first half. Penn State also out-rebounded Wisconsin 19-14.
Penn State Head Coach Patrick Chambers said his team performed better compared to their last matchup with Wisconsin.
“My guys got better,” Chambers said. “And that was evident today. Especially in a hostile environment like this.”
Freshman Kobe King led the Badgers in scoring with seven points off the bench, while Happ added six points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
But Wisconsin came out of the locker room looking strong as Happ scored six straight for the Badgers to begin the half. With the Badgers trailing 38–30 with 17:20 left in the game, the team managed to go on a 16-5 run to take a 46–43 lead with 11:51 remaining.
As we’ve grown accustomed to with this Badger team, the game remained close the rest of the way.
Up 59–57 with 14.1 seconds remaining, Wisconsin’s Khalil Iverson pressured Penn State freshman Rasir Bolton into tipping the ball out of bounds off an inbound play to give the Badgers the ball and a chance to seal the game.
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Sophomore Nate Reuvers proceeded to make one out of two free throws, and after the Badgers pinned yet another turnover on Bolton, Penn State fouled immediately. Pritzl officially put the game away with another free throw, and the Badgers left the Kohl Center with a 61–57 victory.
Happ finished the game with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists, while King added nine points off the bench. The Wisconsin bench posted 26 points in total Saturday.
Penn State was led by Lamar Stevens, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Josh Reaves added 14 points and nine rebounds.
With the win, the Badgers extended their win streak against the Nittany Lions to 12, including 19 in a row at home.
Looking ahead, the Badgers host their final home game of the season Thursday night against No. 22 Iowa, who the Badgers defeated in Iowa City earlier in the season. Wisconsin will recognize seniors Happ, Iverson and Charles Thomas IV, who will all be playing their final game at the Kohl Center.