53%. That's what Penn State shot from the floor against Wisconsin.
Wisconsin one-upped them by shooting 54% from the floor and 53% from outside. Penn State fell behind early on, trailing by 13 at the end of the first half, but refused to quit in the 2nd half. Wisconsin was able to counter every big run the Nittany Lions made, though, coming out with a hard fought 10 point win.
But the biggest key to Wisconsin's win was the incredible shooting of Keaton Nankivil, who was 8 of 9 from the floor and 5 of 5 from beyond the arc. Nankivil finished with 22 points, and likely would have had more but for him rolling his ankle and having to leave the game in the 1st half. Keaton returned to the game, much to the Nittany Lions' chagrin, as they simply could not stop him from getting open or his shots from falling. Nankivil pulled off a rare 4 point play in the 2nd half.
Penn State fired back with Talor Battle, who jacked up 13 shots from outside and 17 shots overall. But Talor managed to hit 7 threes and both of his free throw attempts (off a technical foul on Jordan Taylor), finishing with 23 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. But Battle's 4 turnovers hurt Penn State, which couldn't afford mistakes with Wisconsin hitting over half of its shots.
Eventually, Penn State was able to cut Wisconsin's lead to single digits (9 was as close as they got in the 2nd half), but they were unable to cut it any closer despite getting a barrage of 3 pointers late in the 2nd half. Wisconsin looked like they had the game sealed at many points, going up by 15 and 17, but the Nittany Lions simply would not go away. Eventually, time ran out on Ed DeChellis's team and the Badgers picked up their 10th conference win of the year.
Wisconsin had Keaton Nankivil go off for 22 points on 8 of 9 shooting, but they got 22 more points from Jon Leuer, who was 8 of 14 from the floor and 5 of 5 from the free throw line. Leuer's 10 rebounds gave him a double-double, which Wisconsin needed. Jordan Taylor struggled in this game, managing just 13 points on 4 for 11 shooting, with 5 coming from his 5 made free throws. Taylor led the Badgers in assists (with 7), but committed a needless technical foul in the 2nd half that incensed the Kohl Center crowd and Bo Ryan. Josh Gasser pitched in 11 points on 3 of 4 shooting (converting all 4 free throw attempts), along with 5 assists. As a team, Wisconsin hit 18 of their 21 free throw attempts and 8 of their 15 three point attempts.
Penn State got 23 points from Talor Battle, but he was far from the only scorer Penn State had. Tim Frazier shot 5 of 7 from the floor for 12 points, and Jeff Brooks added 16 points on 8 of 9 shooting. But aside from those players, no Nittany Lion finished in double figures. David Jackson added 7, and Jermaine Marshall 4, but the rest of the Nittany Lions finished with a grand total of 4 points.
Wisconsin was able to take control of the game thanks to 10 Penn State turnovers (compared to 7 of their own), and they crashed the glass offensively, finishing with 8 offensive rebounds and 28 overall, compared to 21 for the Nittany Lions. The Badgers got 17 assists to their 7 turnovers, whereas Penn State finished with 11 assists to 10 turnovers.
Wisconsin has guaranteed that they'll finish with a winning record in conference play. But they now have 3 road games in their next 4 contests, all against teams they've beaten in Madison (Michigan, Indiana, Ohio State), with their only home game (Senior Day) against Northwestern, a team they pounded in Evanston.
Penn State, at 7-8 in Big Ten play, has 3 games remaining. They play Northwestern in Evanston, Ohio State in State College, and Minnesota in Minneapolis. If they can win all three of those games, it will take a lot for the NCAA selection committees to turn them down.
NEXT THREE GAMES:
Wisconsin: @ Michigan (February 23rd), vs. Northwestern (February 27th, SENIOR DAY), @ Indiana (March 3rd)
Penn State: @ Northwestern (February 24th), vs. #2 Ohio State (March 1st), @ Minnesota (March 6th)