The No. 15 Badgers (16-3, 5-1) are back in the Kohl Center after a trip to Minneapolis that the Badgers would leave victorious, although not without making Badger fans sweat a little bit. Penn State is coming off of a 25-point beatdown at the hands of Purdue. The game will be televised at 8:00 p.m. CT on BTN. The Badgers have won their last eight meetings against Penn State.
G: Bronson Koenig (14.3 PPG, 2.1 APG)
G: Zak Showalter (8.0 PPG, 2.3 APG)
F: Nigel Hayes (13.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 3.1 APG)
F: Vitto Brown (7.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG)
C: Ethan Happ (13.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 3.0 APG)
G: Tony Carr (11.4 PPG, 3.6 APG)
G: Shep Garner (12.3 PPG, 2.8 APG)
G: Josh Reaves (8.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG)
F: Lamar Stevens (11.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG)
F: Mike Watkins (9.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG)
Penn State has historically meant a relatively easy win in the Big Ten schedule, but this year’s Nittany Lions squad has been friskier than in the past. Penn State beat Michigan State and Minnesota in back-to-back games and battled Indiana down to the wire in a 78-75 loss.
Pat Chambers’s squad is very young. Point guard Tony Carr is a freshman, and he currently leads the Nittany Lions in assists per game. Mike Watkins is also a freshman, and he was moved into the starting lineup as of recently. He was instrumental in the win over Minnesota, scoring 15 points and grabbing 15 boards. Rounding out the trio of freshman starters is Lamar Stevens, who is third on the team in scoring at 11.6 PPG.
Payton Banks, the first man off the bench for Penn State, is another scoring threat for the Nittany Lions. He is second on the team in PPG with 11.7.
The Badgers, on the other hand, have only lost once since November 23rd, winning 12 out of their last 13 contests. Ethan Happ was a force on both ends of the court the last time out against Minnesota, scoring a career-high 28 points while notching 12 rebounds, six assists, and five blocks. Happ’s productive night helped him bring home his first Big Ten Player of the Week award. Nigel Hayes played 42 minutes and had 21 points of his own.
With Nigel Hayes playing 42 minutes and many of the other starters playing a similar amount of minutes, Greg Gard has approached practice a little differently before this game.
“We practiced last night, but for the heavier minute guys it was pretty light,” Gard said. “Not a lot of contact possessions…more verbalization and us talking about Penn State.”
Wisconsin currently sits at the top of the Big Ten with Maryland. Penn State is 2.5 games behind with a 3-4 Big Ten record.