BuckyCap: Badgers Hold Off Feisty Penn State
Penn State figured something out about their basketball team. They won five of seven games heading into their matchup with Wisconsin. This is the same Penn State that started off the Big Ten season winless, and their coach, Pat Chambers, received a suspension for hitting one of his players. But they got it together to make a late push. Thankfully for Wisconsin, they didn’t also get a road victory against Wisconsin. The Badgers held on and beat the Nittany Lions, 61-57, in a strong bounceback for Wisconsin.
Player of the Game: Brevin Pritzl – What a game from the junior guard. Pritzl comes off the bench and delivers for this Badgers team with 17 points. He could not miss from deep in this one making all four threes. He only missed one shot all day, and that was a free throw late. Other than that, Pritzl was pure butter relishing in his moment for this team. If he can be a vital bench scorer for Wisconsin down the stretch, Badgers become entirely more dangerous as a basketball team.
Silver Star: Ethan Happ – Hand up, Happ didn’t play that good of a game. But there really isn’t anyone to showcase. Kobe King had a nice first half, but in reality, Happ was more vital to a victory. Even though he had a rough start to this game, he picked it up with 14 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Happ stuffed the stat sheet on Saturday. The Badgers forward also made both his free throw attempts. That’s a small baby step for him, but it’s a big win for Wisconsin.
Thing I liked: Bench performance was the best of the season – Between Pritzl and King, the bench was awesome for Wisconsin. They played a key role in bringing this one home for Wisconsin. If the Badgers can get this from either player, Pritzl or King, Badgers are such a better team and have a real shot to make some noise in March. Those two picked up the slack for Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice.
Thing I didn’t like: Badgers starters not named Happ were awful – This game is one to forget if your last name is Trice, Davison or Reuvers. Those guys were exceptionally cold from the field on Saturday. They went a combined four-for-21 missing 17 total shots. I don’t think it’s a cause for concern though. Part of me thinks it has to do with the fatigue after the barnburner at Indiana on Tuesday evening that went double-overtime. It wouldn’t surprise me if each player bounces back.
Next up: Wisconsin stays home, and they’ll take on Iowa on Thursday evening. This is an important game for both teams. Badgers are trying to remain fourth in the Big Ten to keep their double-bye while Iowa trying to push their way up there. Hawkeyes were embarrassed at home against Rutgers on Saturday afternoon. Not sure what their spirit will be at the Kohl Center. These are typically close battles.