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Wisconsin men’s basketball: three things that stood out from the win over Penn State

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The Badgers hung on and won by two points in a game that we will all hopefully forget about in the next hour or two.

Penn State v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Saturday night’s game will not be one that people tell their grandkids they attended, but Wisconsin’s 51-49 victory over Penn State was still a Big Ten win for the Badgers and at the end of the season those all count the same! Let’s take a look at three things that stood out from the good ol’ fashioned rock fight between the Badgers and Nittany Lions.

Three things that stood out...

No. 1: Shooting woes continue

Wisconsin had a dreadful shooting night on the road in Champaign, Ill. earlier in the week. It was hoped that the 3-for-24 performance from deep was just an aberration and the result of a road game in a hostile arena against a good team. Well, when all of those things were reversed on Saturday, the Badgers still shot the ball like butt.

For the game, UW shot 6-of-21 (29%) from three and 21-of-56 (38%) from the floor overall. They even only made three of their six free throw attempts, an area in which they usually excel.

Leading the way (?) in the poor shooting department was All-American candidate Johnny Davis. Penn State held the superb sophomore to four points on 2-of-13 shooting and didn’t allow him to get to the free throw line once. Brad Davison shot 3-of-10 from the field and the bench, which scored three total points, was a combined 1-of-9. There were a lot of bricks being laid at the Kohl Center and it was painful to watch.

No. 2: Big Steve steps up big time

One player who did NOT shoot the ball poorly was big man Steven Crowl. The seven-footer, affectionately known as Big Steve, was 5-of-8 from the field with three bombs from beyond the arc, two of which came during Wisconsin’s big 13-0 run in the second half.

What was even more impressive than his shooting was his passing. Crowl had five dimes on the game and had an especially nice connection going with Tyler Wahl, finding him for layups a couple of times.

Crowl added four rebounds, one block and one steal too while being plus-nine on the game. He affected winning in just about every way possible on Saturday night when UW’s two main offensive weapons struggled.

No. 3: Sure the offense sucked, but the defense was good!

We have focused a lot on how bad the offenses were in this game, and they were bad, and while that doesn’t always mean the defense was good, in this case Wisconsin’s defense was pretty solid. Even though Penn State got hot from three in the second half, the Nittany Lions still only shot 30% from deep on the game and they scored 0.80 points per possession.

In the first half, where PSU only scored 13 points mind you, the Badgers forced the Lions into bad shots that, predictably, became bricks. Wisconsin forced 10 turnovers, blocked four shots and recorded three steals on the evening. While they probably gave up a few too many offensive rebounds for Greg Gard’s liking, it wasn’t a back-breaking amount and PSU only had four second chance points.

It speaks to the character of this team, and the coaching of Gard and his staff, that star players like Davis and Davison couldn’t buy a bucket in the first half but still stayed engaged on the defensive end and in rebounding the ball.

Up next: Wisconsin travels to East Lansing, Mich. on Tuesday, Feb. 8 to take on the Spartans at 6 p.m. CT on Big Ten Network.