University Park, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The 14th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers head to the Bryce Jordan Center hoping to avoid an upset, as they battle the Penn State Nittany Lions in Big Ten Conference action.
Wisconsin held on for a 69-58 victory over Indiana last time it was on the floor, earning its sixth straight victory and avenging a 75-72 loss to the Hoosiers from earlier in the season. The Badgers are now 23-5 overall, including a strong 10-5 mark in conference. They play their home finale against Purdue next.
Penn State earned a 65-63 win over Ohio State on Thursday, sweeping the season series with the Buckeyes for the first time since 1997-98. The Nittany Lions haven't had much success otherwise, with a middling 14-14 mark overall and a 5-10 ledger against the rest of the Big Ten. They will be on the road for their last two games of the season against Northwestern and Minnesota.
This is the first and only scheduled meeting between these teams this season. Last year, Wisconsin swept the season series with two games decided by a total of 12 points. The all-time series has been less competitive, with the Badgers leading, 28-10.
Sam Dekker scored 16 points to lead all five starters in double figures in Wisconsin's recent triumph over Indiana. The Badgers got out to a slow start, shooting 25.9 percent from the floor in the first half, but they heated up in the second, shooting 61.9 percent overall, including a 6-of-11 effort from 3- point range, in the frame.
Wisconsin's commitment at the defensive end gives it a chance even when its shooting cools off. The Badgers are allowing only 63.5 ppg on 42.6 percent shooting this season, while ranking fourth in the Big Ten in both scoring (73.4 ppg) and field goal percentage (.457). The offensive load is normally spread evenly, with Dekker (13.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Frank Kaminsky (13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg) leading the way. Also in the mix are Ben Brust (12.6 ppg) and Traevon Jackson (10.7 ppg). Jackson had 14 points and Brust added 12 against Indiana, while Kaminsky labored for his 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting.
It wasn't easy, but Penn State found a way to knock off Ohio State yet again on Thursday. D.J. Newbill led the charge, netting a game-high 23 points, while Tim Frazier tacked on 16, although he also had a game-high six turnovers. The Nittany Lions biggest edge in the game was in second-chance points (15-5).
Newbill (17.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Frazier (16 ppg, 5.7 apg) are the key components for the Nittany Lions. They are the only players on the team averaging in double figures this season, as Brandon Taylor (9.2 ppg) and Ross Travis (9.1 ppg) represent the next best options. Frazier is more than a scorer, however, as he runs the point with great success, leading the Big Ten in assists. However, he managed only two helpers in the win over Ohio State. All told, Penn State is scoring 73 ppg and shooting 43.4 percent from the floor, ranking sixth and eighth in the conference, respectively.