No. 19 Wisconsin looks for payback against Penn State
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No. 19 Wisconsin gets a chance at quick retribution for its weekend loss at Penn State when the two teams face each other again Tuesday night in Madison, Wis.
In Saturday's game, which Penn State won 81-71, the Nittany Lions scored 50 points in the second half against the Badgers, who entered the game allowing a total of 62.4 points per game. Nate Reuvers led Wisconsin (13-5, 7-4 Big Ten) with 18 points, but Penn State was in control throughout much of the second half.
Guard Myreon Jones led Penn State (6-7, 3-6) with 20 points, and Izaiah Brockington added 18 points and nine rebounds. The Nittany Lions made 53.6 percent of their shots in the second half
Penn State interim head coach Jim Ferry called the victory a "great program win."
"The resiliency of this group just keeps showing," Ferry said. "We really locked in. I thought we defended well, and we got the game to be played at our pace, which we talked about as being very important. We're getting better, and that's the focus."
Ferry said Wisconsin is a difficult team to play, a team that slows the pace and grinds things out. But the Nittany Lions were able to make an adjustment at halftime and pick up the tempo.
John Harrar scored 17 points for Penn State and said his team was playing Wisconsin's style in the first half.
"I think that's what Wisconsin's so good at and why they win so much," Harrar said. "But when we start playing the Penn State brand of basketball and we start getting in the paint, start making them move on defense and hurry them up, then everyone starts playing better, me and the four other guys on the court."
The Badgers felt they had too many breakdowns on defense.
"At times we're really good. The notion that we're going to outscore teams is a fairy tale," Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard said. "We've got to be really good defensively.
"I thought we gave them some confidence early with turnovers. The confidence that we fed them, and they played well off of it."
The Badgers have lost two of their last three games.
Wisconsin missed 21 3-pointers, but Gard said that didn't concern him as much as what his team didn't do defensively.
"By the time we get to the last three or four minutes, we had given them way too much confidence from an offensive standpoint. And that's what we've got to eradicate, the confidence that we hand teams at times. All those things add up."
Wisconsin got 15 points from Aleem Ford and 13 points and 10 rebounds from Tyler Wahl, but forward Micah Potter, who had seven straight games of scoring in double figures, was held to six.
Wahl said he's glad to get Penn State again right away.
"We get a little test to see if we can improve. That's the goal of the regular season, to see if we can improve day in and day out," Wahl said.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 1, 2021