Nittany Lions Can’t Hold on to Lead against Wisconsin

Story posted February 2, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Matt Trabold

Despite leading a majority of the game, the Penn State Nittany Lions (10-13, 2-8 Big Ten) were defeated by the Wisconsin Badgers (18-5, 7-3 Big Ten) last night in the Bryce Jordan Center by a score of 52-46.

Penn State’s matchup with the Badgers was their fourth-straight game against a ranked opponent — the longest such streak for any team in Division I men’s basketball this season. The Nittany Lions had the better of the first half of play against Wisconsin, being up by as much as nine points and leading 23-17 going into the break.

Redshirt sophomore guard Jermaine Marshall — who finished the game with 13 points and 5 rebounds — was the most productive Nittany Lion in the first half play, scoring 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the floor.

Last night’s first half point total for the Badgers was the lowest scoring half against Penn State this season, tying the first half of the November 20th contest against South Florida. Wisconsin senior guard Jordan Taylor ended the first half scoring a layup with 0.3 seconds left on a controversial Badgers offensive possession where it looked like he may have charged leading up to the buzzer-beating bucket.

“It was definitely a big play,” Penn State head coach Pat Chambers said of the shot. “We have to give a foul there and stop his forward progress. It probably was a charge.”

Wisconsin did not waste much time taking the lead back from the Nittany Lions in the second half. They were able to go up 27-26 at the 13:51 mark on the clock after Taylor faked a three-point jumper by heaving a two-handed pass while still mid-air to redshirt junior forward Ryan Evans under the basket for a layup.

Junior guard Tim Frazier led the way for the Nittany Lions with 21 points and 7 assists on the night. Most of his production came in the second half, as he recorded 17 of Penn State’s 23 points in the final 20 minutes.

“Try guarding him, and tell me if it's easy,” said Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. “It's not like you can take five guys and go guard him. You squeeze, you help, you try to take away driving lines, and we made him work for his shots.”

Three-point jumpers by two reserves for the Badgers — senior guard Rob Wilson and freshman center Frank Kaminsky — followed Evans layup and bolstered the lead for Wisconsin.

A late run by the Nittany Lions was stifled on one decisive turn of events. Penn State redshirt freshman forward Jon Graham missed a pair of free throws at the 2:56 mark when the Nittany Lions were only down 40-38. Freshman forward Ross Travis grabbed a tough offensive rebound off of Graham’s second missed free throw. Later in that Nittany Lions’ offensive possession, Marshall drove the baseline and narrowly missed a dunk attempt.

On the other end of the court, Taylor made the most pivotal play of the game: hitting a long top-of-the-key three-point jumper which made the Badgers lead 48-43 with 1:44 left in regulation.

“It was huge,” said Chambers. “We didn't come over the top of the ball screen. [Taylor] is a winner. He made winning plays, and that's why Wisconsin is leaving here with a win.”

Taylor ended the game with 18 points and 5 assists after only mustering 5 points by halftime. Evans ended the game with 11 points and 6 rebounds, while redshirt junior forward Jared Berggren recorded 8 points and 10 rebounds.

The Nittany Lions’ next game is Saturday afternoon as they take on the Iowa Hawkeyes on the road at 3:00 p.m.

Matt Trabold is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email: mjt5203@psu.edu.