University Park, PA (Sports Network) - The Penn State Nittany Lions seek another upset win over a nationally-rank foe from the Big Ten Conference, as they close out the regular season on Sunday afternoon versus the 22nd-ranked Wisconsin Badgers at the Bryce Jordan Center.
It took quite a while for the Nittany Lions to get into gear in conference play, dropping their first 14 Big Ten outings, but then late last month the squad shocked Michigan at home, 84-78, and then more recently topped Northwestern on the road on Thursday night, 66-59, which means PSU has now won two of its last three after suffering through a 14-game slide.
As for the Badgers, they've been an enigma in league play this season, at one point playing three straight overtime affairs and losing one of those to Minnesota. More recently, the team was held to a season-low 43 points in a 25- point setback against Michigan State on the road three nights ago. The loss was the second in a row for the program which is now 11-6 in conference play.
Wisconsin, which won the conference opener in Madison against the Nittany Lions by a score of 60-51, owns a 29-10 advantage in the all-time series. Of the 10 victories for Penn State, seven have come at home.
At the Breslin Center in East Lansing, the Badgers made a total of just seven field goals in the first half, 15 overall, compared to 17 turnovers in the loss at 10th-ranked Michigan State. Ben Brust was the lone double-digit scorer for the program with 10 points, while Ryan Evans came within a point of a double-double with his team-best 11 rebounds. In addition to shooting only 29.4 percent from the field, Wisconsin was also held to a miserable 4-of-23 (.174) beyond the arc.
In conference play, the Badgers are producing a mere 60.8 ppg on 40.3 percent shooting from the field. But a more telling stat for Wisconsin is the one that says the team has made just 60.6 percent at the free-throw line in those 17 games, compared to 69.5 percent for the opposition. Luckily, the Badgers have still outscored Big Ten foes at the charity stripe overall, but that's an area that needs to be addressed. Brust is the only player in double figures with 10.8 ppg, while Evans (9.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg) is the one who is the huge liability the line (.432) these days.
For the first time in nearly two years, the Nittany Lions finally came up with a win on the road against a conference foe, thanks to the seven-point decision at Northwestern a few nights back. Jermaine Marshall and D.J. Newbill both tallied 18 points for the Lions, although the latter also suffered seven of the team's 16 turnovers. Sasa Borovnjak turned in a double-double performance with 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, as the visitors logged a 38-23 advantage on the glass overall.
While the Nittany Lions have finally broken through in conference play in recent weeks, the team is still putting up some very weak numbers in those 17 decisions this year. Newbill may be the leading scorer for PSU with his 16.1 ppg, accounting for a team-best 70 assists as well, but his mere 38.1 percent shooting from the floor and dismal 27.9 percent behind the 3-point line is still hard to overlook. Marshall steps in with 15.8 ppg, having made a team- best 34 3-pointers, which means the pair accounts for more than half of the club's 58.8 ppg right now.