Men’s basketball: Wisconsin handles Penn State, prepares for Minnesota Saturday

first_imgDespite a second-half comeback attempt by Penn State, the No. 5 Wisconsin men’s basketball team outlasted the Nittany Lions in State College, Pennsylvania Wednesday night 55-47 to capture its ninth straight victory.Wisconsin (24-2, 12-1 Big Ten) was led by junior forward Sam Dekker, who had a team-best and season-best 22 points on 9 of 13 shooting (3-for-6 from three) Wednesday along with five rebounds. Senior forward Frank Kaminsky was the only other UW player in double figures with 16 points and nine rebounds.The Badgers took a 31-24 lead into halftime over Penn State (15-12, 3-11 Big Ten) and extended that lead to 16, 46-30, with eight minutes and 52 seconds left in the second half. Earlier in the half, the Nittany Lions went on a more than six-minute scoring drought, staying at 26 points and helping Wisconsin extend its lead.But from there Penn State responded with a 13-3 run that pulled them within six at 49-43 with a little over three minutes left in the game.However, Wisconsin made its free throws from that point on to leave State College with a win and a program-best 24-2 overall record.Penn State guard D.J. Newbill, who entered the game as the Big Ten’s leading scorer, had a game-high 29 points and was the only Nittany Lion to score over seven points.Wisconsin sophomore forward Nigel Hayes hauled in a game-high 13 rebounds along with nine points.Neither team shot particularly well, as Wisconsin was just 20-for-51 (39.2 percent) while Penn State went 21-for-54 (38.9 percent) from the floor. Both teams struggled from beyond the arc, as well, with Wisconsin shooting just 22.7 percent (5-for-22) and Penn State shooting only 15.4 percent (2-for-13) from three.The Badgers will now turn their attention to their next game on Saturday against Minnesota (16-11, 5-9 Big Ten) at the Kohl Center.With the regular season coming to a close — Wisconsin has just six games left until the Big Ten tournament and postseason play begins — the Badgers can finally start to look toward clinching their first regular season conference championship since 2008. As of Wednesday night, the Badgers have a three game lead over three teams (No. 16 Maryland, Michigan State and Purdue) in the Big Ten conference standings.It is possible for the Badgers to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular season Saturday. If Wisconsin can defeat the Gophers at the Kohl Center and either Maryland, Michigan State or Purdue loses, the Badgers will clinch a share of the conference title.But first they’ll have to take care of their border rival Saturday. Minnesota fell to Northwestern 72-66 Wednesday night to give them back-to-back losses after falling to Indiana Sunday night. Gopher senior guard Andre Hollins led Minnesota with 12 points, six assists and four rebounds Wednesday.Hollins leads the Minnesota scoring threat, averaging a team-high 15 points to go with 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. The 6-foot-2 guard is deadly from deep, making 43.8 percent of his shots from three, which is good for third best in the Big Ten.Wisconsin and Minnesota will square off at 11 a.m. Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center. The game will be televised on ESPN.Game VitalsNo. 5 Wisconsin (24-2, 12-1 Big Ten)Big Ten: 12-1, 1st place by three games over Maryland, Michigan State and PurdueLast Game: Defeated Penn State on the road, 55-47Probable Starters: G – Bronson Koenig (6-4, 7.5 ppg), G – Josh Gasser (6-4, 7.3 ppg), F – Nigel Hayes (6-8, 12.4 ppg), F – Sam Dekker (6-9, 13.0 ppg), F – Frank Kaminsky (7-0, 17.6 ppg)Key Reserves: G – Zak Showalter, F – Duje Dukan, F – Vitto BrownMinnesota (16-11, 5-9 Big Ten)Big Ten: 5-9, 11th placeLast Game: Lost to Northwestern at home, 72-66Probable Starters: G – DeAndre Mathieu (5-9, 8.3 ppg), G – Andre Hollins (6-2, 15.0 ppg), F – Joey King (6-9, 9.0), F – Charles Buggs (6-9, 3.8), F – Maurice Walker (6-10, 11.7)Key Reserves: G – Nate Mason, G – Carols Morris, C – Elliott EliasonWho – No. 5 Wisconsin vs. MinnesotaWhen – Saturday, Feb. 21, 11 a.m.Where – Kohl Center (17,230); Madison, WisconsinTV – ESPNlast_img read more