Newbill gets no help in defeat

By Mark Brennan

For the Mirror

UNIVERSITY PARK – No. 5 Wisconsin scored only two points over a nearly eight-minute span of the first half against Penn State at the Jordan Center Wednesday.

Yet the Badgers still held a seven-point lead.

It was that sort of night, as the best team in the Big Ten jumped out to an early double-figure edge and then held one of the conference laggards at arm’s length the rest of the way in a 55-47 victory.

Senior guard D.J. Newbill was again outstanding for Penn State (15-12, 3-11), scoring a game-high 29. And the Lions showed plenty of spunk after chewing into double-figure deficits in both halves.

But Wisconsin (24-2, 12-1) was, well, Wisconsin, and Bo Ryan’s methodical, patient outfit never blinked in dispatching PSU.

“They really grind you down,” Lion coach Pat Chambers said. “When they get a lead, like 10 or 16, it’s really like 20 or 30. They really milk the clock, they really share the basketball. … They have a lot of good players.”

Wisconsin built its first big lead fairly early, as star center Frank Kaminsky showed his versatility with a 3-pointer, a driving slam and even an assist to Sam Dekker for another trey en route to a 19-8 lead.

For PSU, it didn’t help that Newbill was the only Lion who showed up offensively, especially early in the game. He scored State’s first dozen points, and the Lions did not get points from anyone other than him until Brandon Taylor made a triple with 5:04 left before the break.

State got as close as 24-21 on two Newbill free throws at the 2:28 mark of the first half before Wisconsin pulled away to lead 31-24 at intermission. The Badgers made only three baskets in the last 12:29 of the half but were still up.

“That’s amazing,” Ryan said.

Wisconsin controlled things for much of the second half, going up 46-30 on a Bronson Koenig jumper with 8:51 showing. Again Penn State fought back. Again Newbill did most of the damage.

“The key is we didn’t want to let anyone else get hot,” Ryan said. “Fortunately they didn’t.”

Newbill was 13 of 21 from the field, making more shots than the rest of the team combined (8 of 33). Of the 10 Lions who played, seven had three points or fewer and five did not score at all.

And yet they still trailed only 48-43 following a Geno Thorpe layup with 4:08 to go. Then Jordan Dickerson blocked Kaminsky’s shot in the lane, and PSU had the ball and chance to creep even closer.

The Lions ran a high ball screen for Newbill – which has been their bread and butter all season – only to see him trip over teammate Ross Travis’ foot and lose the ball. After being down so far against such a talented team, PSU had zero margin for error.

And yet one hit at the worst possible moment. Kaminsky came away with the ball and was fouled in the lane at the other end. He made both shots and State would not get closer than seven the rest of the way.

It was Newbill’s only turnover of the night, and one of a season-low six committed by PSU.

“It’s amazing,” Chambers said. “I don’t know what happens in the last four minutes of games.”

In this one, what happened in the first four minutes of both halves was even more damaging. They proved to be holes too deep to escape.

“You have to give Wisconsin credit,” Newbill said. “They did a good job of holding the lead and making big plays when they needed them.”

Game notes: Travis finished with eight rebounds to give him 768 for his career. He passed Gene Harris (762) for third on PSU’s all-time list. No. 2 (Mike Lang, 912) is out of reach. … Taylor had seven for the Lions despite playing with a sore knee and Thorpe added six. … Rookie guard Shep Garner was held scoreless for PSU and was 0 of 9 from the floor. … Dekker had a career-high 22 for the Badgers, while Kaminsky had 16. … Penn State is at Northwestern Saturday for a 3 p.m. tip. The game can be seen on ESPNU.

WISCONSIN (24-2)

Hayes 4-7 1-2 9, Dekker 9-13 1-3 22, Kaminsky 4-12 7-8 16, Gasser 1-5 0-0 3, Koenig 2-10 1-2 5, Showalter 0-1 0-0 0, Dukan 0-2 0-0 0, Brown 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-51 10-15 55.

PENN STATE (15-12)

Taylor 3-7 0-0 7, Dickerson 1-4 0-0 2, Newbill 13-21 3-3 29, Thorpe 3-6 0-0 6, Garner 0-9 0-0 0, Banks 0-2 0-0 0, Foster 0-2 0-0 0, Jack 0-1 0-0 0, Travis 0-1 0-0 0, Moore 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 21-54 3-3 47.

Halftime-Wisconsin 31-24. 3-Point Goals-Wisconsin 5-22 (Dekker 3-6, Kaminsky 1-3, Gasser 1-5, Dukan 0-1, Hayes 0-2, Koenig 0-5), Penn St. 2-13 (Moore 1-1, Taylor 1-2, Thorpe 0-1, Banks 0-2, Garner 0-3, Newbill 0-4). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Wisconsin 37 (Hayes 13), Penn St. 28 (Travis 8). Assists-Wisconsin 12 (Koenig 4), Penn St. 5 (Newbill 3). Total Fouls-Wisconsin 9, Penn St. 17. A-7,132.