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Game notes: Penn State 81, No. 14 Wisconsin 71

The Badgers lost on the road to Penn State in their worst defensive performance of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

There are very few nice words you could use to describe the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers (13-5 overall, 7-4 Big Ten) men’s basketball team’s performance against the Penn State Nittany Lions (6-7 overall, 3-6 Big Ten) on Saturday. UW gave up their most points of the season and allowed PSU to score 1.14 points per possession (their second worst showing of the season after the Michigan debacle). The Badgers also shot a ghastly 25% (7-of-28) from long range, only got to the free throw line eight times and turned the ball over a dozen times.

The only good things about the game were Tyler Wahl’s first half performance and Nate Reuvers’ overall performance.

Here are a few other notes and thoughts about the game after having a night to sleep on it.

  • Wahl was incredible in the first half. He scored 13 points, on 6-of-9 shooting, and grabbed six rebounds. He was everywhere and was the primary reason that the Badgers were winning at halftime. Much like the team overall, Wahl had a dreadful second half, not scoring a single point and only attempting one shot. He chipped in four more rebounds and added two assists, so it isn’t like he disappeared off the face of the Earth, but he was never able to fully get involved in the offense over the final 20 minutes.
  • Reuvers appears to have found his groove coming off the bench. He poured in a team-high 18 points (7-of-12 from the field) and grabbed five rebounds. He also had a blocked shot and drew six fouls while the rest of the team was only able to draw four...combined. Reuvers still struggled around the rim, missing two of his four attempts that weren’t dunks, but his jumper looks smooth and he has clearly regained some of his confidence.
  • Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice picked the same game to play poorly which is...not ideal. They were a combined 2-of-11 from three (Trice was 0-for-5) and had a combined four turnovers compared to six assists. The duo didn’t play particularly well on defense either, allowing Izaiah Brockington and Myreon Jones to get into the lane with relative ease and breakdown the Badgers defense.

I find myself often complaining about Nate Reuvers’ and Micah Potter’s interior defense (and don’t get me wrong Potter’s is usually pretty bad, especially on pick and rolls) but when opposing guards are allowed to get in the lane with regularity due to bad point of attack defense, it isn’t all on Potter and Reuvers to clean up the mess. Trice and Davison have to be better and give their big men some help.

  • Speaking of Potter’s defense, it was bad on Saturday! When Potter isn’t making shots, which he wasn’t against PSU, he is basically unplayable and that’s the reason he was only on the floor for 15 minutes against the Nittany Lions.

Now, some perspective must be applied here. Potter sat out the last 9:24 of the first half because he picked up his second foul. That means he only played 5:35 in the first period, not nearly enough time to get into any sort of rhythm. This game didn’t seem to be called particularly closely as there were only nine total fouls called in the first half and that needs to be taken into account when a player picks up his second.

  • Wisconsin had 12 turnovers. Penn State had six. Wisconsin had five points off of turnovers. Penn State had 15. There’s the difference in the game.
  • The Badgers outscored Penn State in the paint, 36-26, and had nine second chance points to PSU’s five.
  • This is purely anecdotal but later in the second half Penn State seemed to make a number of ridiculous, back-breaking shots as Wisconsin tried to claw back into the game. The and-1 layup that John Harrar made with Davison hanging on him and Wahl nearly blocking it was preposterous. I also seem to remember that PSU made two shots with the shot clock expiring, after UW played great defense, that took the air out of Wisconsin’s sails a bit.
  • Wisconsin will have an immediate chance at revenge as these two teams will play on Tuesday night in Madison this time.