Brust, Badgers hold off pesky Penn State, 71-66

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With a chance to put a stranglehold on at least a No. 3 seed in the Big Ten title on the line, No. 14 Wisconsin held off D.J. Newbill and Penn State 71-66. After a series of games at the Bryce Jordan Center that could nicely be described as ugly, the Badgers made a move to the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tourney by actually being able to score in the BJC. 

In the previous five contests in Happy Valley, Wisconsin averaged 56.8 points per game, but on Sunday UW managed the most points since an 80 point effort at the BJC in January of 2008. It also marked Wisconsin's seventh straight win after losing five of six earlier in Big Ten play. 

Despite being outshot (44 to 48 percent), the Badgers used a huge advantage at the line to salt away the game. Wisconsin made 19 free throws, while Penn State took just 13 for the game. 

Once again it became a team effort for the Badgers, but one guy stood out the most—Ben Brust. He poured in 14 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and had 3 assists on the day. Most importantly though, Brust found a way to make things happen when the Badgers needed it the most. 

In a series of three possessions, Brust managed a layup and three-pointer to keep Wisconsin's lead at five points with around eight minutes to play in the game. 

Fellow guard Traevon Jackson struggled at times, but once again came up clutch in the final minutes of the game to help salt away the Badger victory. He finished the day with 13 points and 5 assists, but he had 6 of his 13 points in the final 1 minute 23 seconds of the win.  

The win for Wisconsin all but locks up the No. 3 seed, as UW leads a Nebraska team that is 9-7 with just two games left. UW also put itself in a tie with Michigan State for the No. 2 spot in the Big Ten, but holds the tiebreaker thanks to its win. Wisconsin winning out would give them the No. 2 seed in next week's Big Ten tournament. 

Let's get to the grades…

Player Stats/Thoughts Grade

Ben Brust, G
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14pts, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 4-7 FGs

Everyone played a role in this win, but it's hard to argue that UW wins without Brust. He was timely in his effort, and more times than not his contributions stunted a Penn State comeback attempt or put the Badgers in the drivers seat. Great overall effort in the win for the guard. 

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Nigel Hayes, F
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9pts, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2-4 FGs

It wasn't always flashy, but Hayes played an important role in the first half for Wisconsin. His assist reel on Sunday could've been most big men's career highlights. Additionally, Hayes was great from the free throw line, connecting on 5-6 from the charity stripe. However, he had foul trouble and wasn't able to keep PSU out of the lane. 

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Traevon Jackson, G
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13pts, 1 rebound, 5 assists, 4-10 FGs

Jackson continues to frustrate fans with his inopportune turnovers, with a team-high three of them on Sunday. Yet, he also continues to produce at just the right times for Wisconsin too. His effort down the stretch was nothing short of clutch. 

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Duje Dukan, F
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4pts, 1 steal, 2-2 FGs

We haven't seen Dukan get many minutes as of late, but on Sunday he earned all 7 that he played. In fact, he help spark a run by the Badgers in the first half. Unfortunately he couldn't stay out of his own version of foul trouble, and he didn't see action in the second half. 

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Sam Dekker, F
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7pts, 8 rebounds, 2-6 FGs

Dekker never really got going on the shooting end of things, but this may have been his best effort on the boards all year. It won't be often you see Dekker with more boards than buckets, but it happened on Sunday. He also added 2 blocks as well. Now, if he could put the offense and defense together at the same time, huh?

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Josh Gasser, G
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15pts, 1 rebound, 4-8 FGs

Gasser led the Badgers in scoring on the day, and if it weren't for Brust being so clutch Gasser would be the one everyone is talking about after this game. The senior continues to be a key cog for Bucky down the stretch. 

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Frank Kaminsky, F

9pts, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3-10 FGs

Sunday wasn't the best of days for Kaminsky on either end of the court. He struggled to keep PSU from getting to the rim and he couldn't hit much on the offensive end of things either. Kaminsky made up for his lack of field goal production by going 3-of-5 from the line though. He's seen better days, but Kaminsky remains an important piece to UW's puzzle.

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Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college football for nearly half a decade. He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadgers.com and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com

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