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From bad to worse: Lions start cold, finish cold in home loss to Badgers

Photo for the Mirror by Jack Hirsh Penn State’s Lamar Stevens maneuvers his way through two Wisconsin defenders for a shot Saturday afternoon.

UNIVERSITY PARK — It took Penn State 8 minutes and 36 seconds to score on Saturday afternoon.

It didn’t get much better from there for the Nittany Lions.

Wisconsin’s Micah Potter scored a career-high 24 points, including 18 in the first half, and added 13 rebounds off the bench as the Badgers defeated Penn State 58-49 at the Bryce Jordan Center, putting an end to the Nittany Lions’ 13-game home winning streak.

Potter, playing his first season at Wisconsin after sitting out last season due to his transfer from Ohio State, hit four 3-pointers, all in the first half, on six attempts, something Penn State coach Pat Chambers said the Nittany Lions planned for coming into the game.

“We played him as a shooter,” Chambers said of the 6-foot-10 redshirt junior. “He’s got a high release … and he was on fire. He hit big-time shots.”

Meanwhile, no one seemed to get hot for Penn State.

Just four Nittany Lions managed to score.

Curtis Jones Jr. was 0-for-8 from the floor, Mike Watkins was 0-for-3 and Myles Dread was 0-of-5. Dread continued his poor shooting from beyond the arc as he’s just 2-for-21 in his last four games. He missed two seemingly open looks in the second half as Penn State was trying to claw its way back into the game.

“Sometimes the ball just doesn’t go in,” Dread said of his slump. “I shoot thousands and thousands and thousands of shots… I’m just going to go back to the gym tomorrow and shoot some more. Keep doing what I’ve been doing my whole life.”

Penn State was just 5-of-21 from beyond the three point arc as Dread wasn’t the only player to struggle from deep. Normally knockdown shooters Jones jr. and Myreon Jones were a combined 1-for-11.

The only Nittany Lion to make multiple triples was Jamari Wheeler, who came into the night as a career 19 percent 3-point shooter.

“The right guys are taking threes,” Chambers said. “We’ve got to keep taking those right ones because we do have good shooters on this team.”

Lamar Stevens had 19 points and 13 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season, and Izaiah Brockington chipped in with 15, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Nittany Lions poor shooting overall, just under 33 percent from the floor.

Penn State defensively was stellar for most of the afternoon, holding Wisconsin to just 40 percent shooting.

But the Badgers, known historically as a stingy program to play against, held up to their reputation. Wisconsin is holding opponents to just 60.2 points per game this season.

A big part of that was Potter and the rest of Wisconsin’s big men making Watkins a non-factor as he didn’t score a point for the first time all season and recorded just four rebounds.

“It’s a team effort,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said of guarding the senior who came in averaging over 10 points and nearly 9 rebounds per game. “Starts with ball pressure, trying to minimize (his) touches. Keep the ball out of there.”

This is the first time this season Penn State has lost back-to-back games. Something Chambers has previously mentioned is keeping one loss from becoming two, two becoming three and so on.

He said this team has the experience to keep a couple of bad games from becoming a skid.

“We’re different,” Chambers said. “These guys have been here.”

WISCONSIN (10-6): Davison 3-12 4-5 11, King 5-11 0-3 10, Potter 9-14 2-2 24, Anderson 1-2 0-0 2, Ford 1-3 0-0 2, Pritzl 1-5 0-0 3, Wahl 1-3 0-1 2, Trice 0-2 0-0 0, Reuvers 1-3 2-3 4. Totals 22-55 8-14 58.

PENN ST. (12-4): Stevens 7-17 4-4 19, Dread 0-5 0-0 0, Wheeler 3-4 0-0 8, Brockington 4-8 6-9 15, M.Jones 3-7 0-0 7, Harrar 0-0 0-0 0, Watkins 0-3 0-1 0, C.Jones 0-8 0-0 0, Lundy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-52 10-14 49.

Halftime–Wisconsin 31-22. 3-Point Goals–Wisconsin 6-21 (Potter 4-6, Pritzl 1-4, Davison 1-6, Anderson 0-1, Ford 0-1, Reuvers 0-1, Trice 0-1, Wahl 0-1), Penn St. 5-21 (Wheeler 2-3, Brockington 1-1, Stevens 1-3, M.Jones 1-5, Dread 0-3, C.Jones 0-6). Rebounds–Wisconsin 35 (Davison, Potter 13), Penn St. 32 (Stevens 13). Assists–Wisconsin 10 (King 4), Penn St. 8 (Stevens, C.Jones 2). Total Fouls–Wisconsin 17, Penn St. 14. A–10,139 (15,261).

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