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Wisconsin men’s basketball: UW beats Penn State by the skin of their teeth on Saturday night

It was NOT pretty, not even a little bit, but the Badgers won and move into a tie for second place in the conference.

Penn State v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

The No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers (18-4 overall, 9-3 Big Ten) men’s basketball team hosted the Penn State Nittany Lions (9-10 overall, 4-7 Big Ten) on Saturday night and outlasted their conference rival to win 51-49. The Nittany Lions have still never won a game at the Kohl Center in the building’s existence.

The first half of this game was one of the most dreadful displays of basketball that have ever been witnessed by human eyes. After five minutes of action, the Nittany Lions had a 3-2 lead and, well, things only got worse from there. Chucky Hepburn scored on a nice driving layup to make it 4-3 which sparked a 12-0 Wisconsin “run” that lasted 10:24 on the clock.

10 minutes and 24 seconds.

Penn State went over a full quarter of the game without scoring a single damned point. And it was broadcast on national television! For God and everyone to see!

To make things a little more even, the Badgers only scored one point over the final six and a half minutes of the first half and Penn State, who went over 10 minutes without scoring a point if you’d forgotten, entered halftime only down five points, 18-13.

Johnny Davis didn’t score in the first half. Brad Davison didn’t score either. Wisconsin shot 1-of-10 from three and PSU shot 1-of-12. Overall, the Badgers shot a putrid 26% from the floor and the Nittany Lions shot an embarrassing 17%. No one on Penn State scored more than three points. Everything about the first half made me want to reevaluate my entire fandom of the sport of basketball.

There was a veritable scoring explosion to start the second half. At the first media timeout, the teams had combined for 18 points! Wisconsin big man Steven Crowl had five points and two dimes to pace the Badgers early.

The teams kept exchanging scores at a moderately reasonable pace and then with 11:11 left in the game PSU cuts lead to one, 30-29, on their fourth made three pointer of the half. Right after that, Davis scores his first points to make it 32-29 but a Sam Sessoms three ties it at 32.

Eight straight points from Sessoms and a Greg Lee three made it 40-36 with 7:32 left and forced Greg Gard to call a timeout. After the timeout, Wisconsin came out on fire with a Davis jumper, Big Steve three and then a Davison layup to take 43-40 lead. The Badgers continued the run, which ended up being 13 straight points, and took a commanding nine point lead with 3:30 to go.

However, Penn State was not going to go down so easily and they scored nine straight of their own to tie the game at 49 with 51 seconds left. A beautiful cut and layup by Tyler Wahl gave the Badgers a 51-49 lead with 31 seconds left and they held on to win this game by the skin of their teeth.

Notable stat lines:

  • Steven Crowl —> 13 points (5-of-8 from the floor), four rebounds, five assists
  • Chucky Hepburn —> 10 points (4-of-7 from the floor), two rebounds, one assist
  • Tyler Wahl —> 12 points (6-of-9 from the floor), seven rebounds, one block
  • Sam Sessoms (Penn State) —> 14 points (5-of-9 from the floor), two assists

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.