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3 quick takeaways from the Badgers 87-83 loss to Penn State

The Badgers saw their winning streak snapped on the road.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Wisconsin Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers saw their winning streak snapped with an 87-83 loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions, dropping to 5-1 in conference play.

In the loss, the Badgers shot the ball well, hitting 48.3 percent of their shots, while shooting 43.8 percent from free and 87 percent from the free throw line.

Defensively, the Badgers had their worst performance of the season, allowing Penn State to hit 53.3 percent of their shots and 40 percent from three.

Here are three quick takeaways from the Badgers 87-83 loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Ugly defense

After two straight games of holding teams under 60 points, the Badgers allowed 87 points in a poor defensive performance on Tuesday.

Wisconsin just couldn’t stop Penn State’s trio of talented guards, as Kanye Clary, Ace Baldwin, and Nick Kern combined for 62 points on 58 percent from the field.

The struggles started early, as Penn State got out to a 12-2 loss and they continued throughout the game, as Wisconsin couldn’t sustain defensive success on consecutive possessions.

Penn State’s guards were able to break down Wisconsin’s defense off the dribble, while finding ways to respond when the Badgers inched closer with scores on the offensive end.

The Nittany Lions scored 48 points in the second half, with Clary and Baldwin combining for 32 of those.

Guard Max Klesmit, who had a rough game defensively, was in foul trouble early and fouled out with less than three minutes left as well.

Down the stretch

Over the weekend, after Wisconsin beat Northwestern, I highlighted how the Badgers had been winning every close game this season, which was different than last year when they faltered in these moments.

On Tuesday, the Badgers didn’t have a field goal in the last five minutes of the game until A.J. Storr’s last-second three-pointer when the game was out of hand.

Now, Wisconsin did attack and consistently get to the free throw line, earning 12 opportunities during the last five minutes, but Penn State consistently matched the Badgers with scores of their own, going on a 19-10 run to win the game.

Ultimately, the Badgers couldn’t string together consecutive possessions on both sides of the court, which led to a collapse down the stretch on the road.

Now, this game isn’t indicative of how the Badgers have played this season, but it was a wake-up call for the defense, as head coach Greg Gard acknowledged the team hadn’t been exposed like this in a while.


Throughout the season, the Badgers have traditionally been one of the best teams at taking care of the ball, which has led to an efficient offense all year long.

However, over the past two games, Wisconsin has lost crucial possessions due to turnovers, as they’ve given up the ball 13 times in each of their last two games.

Last game, Chucky Hepburn had three turnovers to go with his three assists, while Tyler Wahl gave it up five times in Tuesday’s loss.

Meanwhile, Penn State gave it up just six times, while scoring 16 points off turnovers, which were crucial in a close game.

After the game, head coach Greg Gard felt the team played too “fast and frenzied” early on, which resulted in them losing control of the game, via BadgerBlitz’s Benjamin Worgull.

Now, Wisconsin shot the ball really well on Tuesday en route to scoring 83 points, but those turnovers will be something to watch as conference play continues.