Don’t let the double digit victory fool you, this one wasn’t easy for the Badgers. Wisconsin used a massive effort on the boards and some timely 3 point shooting to take down Penn State 65-55 at the Kohl Center.
With the win the Badgers got to the 20 win plateau for the sixth straight season and the 10th ovearll under Bo Ryan. To put that in perspective it had only happened 4 other times in program history before he took over.
Four Wisconsin players reached double digits in a true team effort as Josh Gasser led all Badgers with 15 points. He added 5 rebounds to that effort. Joining him in double digits were Jared Berggren (13 points, 6 rebounds), Ryan Evans (11 points, 9 rebounds), and Jordan Taylor (11 points, 4 assists).
However, none could do what Penn State star Tim Fraizer did, scoring 20 points to lead all scorers in the game.
Things started off slow as both teams missed on their opening possessions, but that wouldn’t stay that way for long for the Badgers who hit 3 of their first 4 three pointers to start the game off in style.
With Wisconsin up 15-9 on a three pointer by Jared Berggren the nearly silent Josh Gasser hit his 1st three of the game in a sign of things to come to put the Badgers up 18-9.
After those back to back three’s it began raining for Wisconsin as they opened up their biggest lead of the half, 14 points, a few times down the final stretch, capped off by a halftime 35-21 lead.
Gasser had one of the best performances in a half of his career, leading all scorers with 11 points at the break.
Not far behind him was Penn State’s Tim Frazier who had 10 points. Just how important was his performance? The rest of the team had just 11 points combined at the half.
The Badgers extend their halftime lead to as many as 20 points at 49-29 in the 2nd half. However the Nittany Lions used a combination of the only cold streak for the Badgers and the great play of Tim Fraizer to go on a 11-0 run and cut the Wisconsin lead to just 49-40 with 9:15 left to play.
Wisconsin wouldn’t allow them to come all the way back though as they used a series of key offensive rebounds and three pointers down the stretch by Jared Berggren to slam the door shut on any chance of a Penn State comeback.
“Those two 3’s he hit were to me the difference because I thought we battled back and we did some good things, but they were daggers,” Penn State Head Coach Pat Chambers said of Berggren’s back to back makes from deep.
The Badgers shot an impressive 50% (11-22) from beyond the arc for the game and grabbed 10 offensive rebounds. What was lost in the effort by Gasser and Evans was the play of Mike Bruesewitz who had 7 points, but also grabbed 12 rebounds and had 5 assists to help control the clock down the stretch.
Wisconsin also was killer from the free throw line, hitting 14-17 free throws, and the defense was also impressive as they held the Nittany Lions to just 39.9% field goal shooting and 22.2% (4-18) from beyond the arc.
If ever there was a game that shows that the 2011-12 Badgers are a “Live by the three, die by the three” team it was this one.
Wisconsin now sits in 4th place in the conference standings at 20-7 overall and 9-5 in conference play. Up next for the Badgers is a trip to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to take on Iowa on Thursday. The game is set for 8pm Central and will be televised on ESPN2.