The #10 Wisconsin Badgers won their 18th straight game at the Kohl Center when they defeated Penn State 76-66 on Sunday. The Badgers (20-6, 10-4) benefited tremendously from their silky-smooth big men Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil who chipped in 22 a piece on a combined 16-of-23 shooting from the field.
With the win, Wisconsin has now defeated all 10 of the other Big Ten teams this season, the only school to do so. The Badgers are only the seventh team to beat all other Big Ten foes in the last 10 seasons.
By: Nick Grays
What It Means: It sounds like a broken record, but the Badgers have won another home game and backed up a another loss with a win.
Despite the continuity at home, this season has really been a tale of two teams; Wisconsin is amazingly dominant at the Kohl Center, but averts to mediocrity on the road.
How did this same Penn State squad sneak up and defeat the Badgers 56-52 at State College a few weeks ago? On Sunday Night, the Nittany Lions couldn’t even come close as they were out-rebounded 28-21.
Give credit to the Badgers defense who are holding opponents to 57.5 ppg which is near the top of the NCAA rankings.
With #11 Purdue’s defeat of #3 Ohio State, the Badgers stay alive in their quest for a Big Ten Title. They will need some help, but do have another match-up with the Buckeyes on the schedule. No better way to prove the critics wrong than putting forth a strong showing in Columbus next week.
Player of the Game: Senior Forward Keaton Nankivil
At the 17:11 mark in the second half, hot-shooting Nankivil proved that he could not miss from behind the arc. Not even a Penn State foul could stop him from the top of the circle when he converted a rare four point play. Nankivil had a great game from the floor while shooting 8-of-9 for 22 points.
Highlight of the Night: Jon Leuer had a nasty dunk in the second half as he put the shake-and-bake on Penn State’s David Jackson and proceeded to throw it down with one hand. The score gave the Badgers a decisive 43-26 lead.
Leuer also had 10 rebounds to give the senior forward his fifth double-double of the season.
Stat of the Game: Jordan Taylor didn’t put up his usual amount of points, but did drop seven dimes to help his fellow Badgers prosper on the night. Even more impressive, the NCAA’s leader in assist-to-turnover ratio had zero turnovers to go along with those seven assists.
Quotables: Penn State Head Coach Ed DeChellis wasn’t happy with how his team approached Nankivil.
“We gave him open shots and that’s not really what you want to do with him because he’s a really good perimeter shooter,” said DeChellis.
Bo Ryan attempted to provide a little insight on why the Badgers are so darn good at home.
“Three seniors in the starting line-up; maybe because they’ve been through all the different types of teams. The energy we get from the fans on another night where it was tough to get to the Kohl Center also plays a role,” said Ryan.
What’s Next: The Badgers would love to play every game at home, but back to the road for them on Wednesday, February 23rd when they take on the Michigan Wolverines (17-11, 7-8). Michigan has been hot of late while winning four of their last five games and boast an impressive 13-4 record when playing at Crisler Arena.
What did you think of the Badgers win versus Penn State? Where do you project the Badgers in the NCAA tournament? Let me know by commenting below!
Rapid Reaction Archive:
Wisconsin 99 Prairie View A&M 55 (11-14-10)
Wisconsin 85 North Dakota 53 (11-16-10)
Wisconsin 87 NC State 48 (12-1-10)
Wisconsin 61 Milwaukee 40 (12-8-10)
Wisconsin 70 Green Bay 56 (12-13-10)
Wisconsin 80 Coppin State 55 (12-23-10)
Wisconsin 66 Michigan 50 (1-5-11)
Wisconsin 76 Illinois 66 (1-15-11)
Wisconsin 69 Indiana 60 (1-20-11)
Wisconsin 66 Purdue 59 (2-1-11)
Wisconsin 82 Michigan State 56 (2-6-11)
Wisconsin 71 Ohio State 67 (2-12-11)
Nick Grays is a senior editor at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Brewers. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.Follow paulmbanks