Game Grades: Men’s Basketball vs. Wisconsin

Story posted February 3, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Trevor Grady

The Penn State Nittany Lions fell to the No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers in Madison, Wisconsin 72-56 on Tuesday night.

This was the second straight game between the Nittany Lions and the Badgers due to schedule changes because of COVID-19 postponements. Penn State now drops to 3-7 in Big Ten play and 6-8 overall.

Let’s take a deep dive into how the Nittany Lions played on Tuesday night.

Offense: C+

Penn State got the scoring started with a three from Jamari Wheeler, but only shot 27.3 percent from deep in the first half. The Nittany Lions shot 42.9 percent from the field overall in the first half.

In their last game against Wisconsin on Saturday, the Nittany Lions only had six total turnovers. In Tuesday night’s matchup, they turned it over seven times in the first half. They managed those turnovers a bit more in the second half and finished with 13 on the game.

The Nittany Lions headed into the halftime intermission in a good spot only trailing by two, but got blitzed quickly to start the second half. They only scored four total points in the first nine minutes of the second half.

That scoring drought was in large part due to John Harrar being limited in the second half as he was dealing with back spasms. Harrar finished with 10 points, five rebounds and two steals.

Myreon Jones was the Nittany Lions leading scorer with 14 points. Jones was efficient in the first half, but slowed down in the second, finishing just 6-15 from the field.

Penn State finished the game shooting extremely poorly. The Nittany Lions ended the game shooting 38.6 percent from the field and 25 percent from three point range. They only got to the free throw line 10 times on the night, and they made six of their ten attempts.

After scoring 81 points in their last game, finishing with 56 was certainly an underwhelming offensive performance.

Defense: C+

Penn State forced the Badgers into 11 turnovers in the first half, but Wisconsin shot the ball very well in the first 20 minutes. They started 6-8 from the field and finished 10-22 in the first half.

The Nittany Lions’ defense was very feisty in the first half and held Wisconsin’s leading scorer, D'Mitrik Trice, to zero points in the entire game. But their intensity trailed off a bit in the second half due to John Harrar’s limited minutes.

Penn State forced the Badgers into 15 turnovers in the game, which feels like a good night. But only four of those 15 were in the second half, as Greg Gard’s Wisconsin squad took much better care of the ball in the latter half of play.

The Badgers finished the game shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 50 percent from three point range. They shot 13-16 from the free throw line, and were really able to command the game in the second half.

Coaching: B-

It is certainly not easy to beat a team twice in back to back games in college basketball. Let alone in Big Ten play. Interim Head Coach Jim Ferry had a pretty solid game plan heading into Tuesday night’s game.

The Nittany Lions sped up the Badgers a ton in the first half and created a bunch of turnovers. The game was super physical inside all night long, and Ferry’s plan was stifled a bit with John Harrar’s limited minutes.

This definitely wasn’t a game that Penn State needed to win to keep their postseason hopes alive, but the way the first half went compared to the second had to leave an uneasy feeling in the stomachs of fans.

Penn State has been unable to pick up a road win in Big Ten play all season long, as they fall to 0-6 in such games this season. The Nittany Lions are in action once again on Friday night as they host Maryland at 7 p.m.

 

Trevor Grady is a junior majoring in management information systems and minoring in journalism. To contact him, email tmg5685@psu.edu.