UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State lacked energy, scheme and a head coach in its loss to No. 24 Wisconsin, 71-52, in the Bryce Jordan Center on Tuesday night.
The loss marked an 0-4 start for the Lions in Big Ten play and pulled their overall record below .500.
Head coach Patrick Chambers was suspended for the game after shoving freshman Myles Dread during a timeout in the loss against Michigan. Assistant coach Keith Urgo filled the role.
“It’s something I’ve been prepared for for 12 years,” Urgo said. “It was just business as usual.”
For Lamar Stevens, who led the Lions with 22 points, that wasn’t exactly the case.
“It was definitely different not having him there,” Stevens said.
Penn State’s offense has demonstrated throughout this season that it doesn’t have a plan on offense. There isn’t a clear structure, shots are either hurried or too late, and their go-to guy in Stevens can’t carry the team to consistent wins by himself.
Urgo said that turnover struggles was the key to the lopsided outcome. The Lions had 16 turnovers, which turned into 19 points for the Badgers.
“Some of our defense led to some baskets and pushed the pace,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “Defensively we did a really good job.”
Stevens led the Lions with 22 points and was clearly frustrated at many times throughout the game. The Lions got 4 points from their bench and no player besides stevens scored more than 9 points.
“Everyone could have done something better today to help change the outcome,” Stevens said.
Mike Watkins was effective against Ethan Happ, who is the statistical leader for the Badgers, in the opening minutes. But Happ slowly established himself as the most sound player on the court and led the Badgers with 22 points.
Penn State entered a six minute scoring drought after tying the Badgers, 7-7. In that stretch, the Badgers took a 14-7 lead. Even though that doesn’t seem like much, the lethargic pace of the game made that lead look comfortable for the visitors.
The Lions broke the drought, but the Badgers surged to a 16-point lead.
The first burst the offense had came with three minutes left in the first half and sent the Lions into the break with a manageable 33-23 deficit. That score would be the closest the Lions were to a lead for the rest of the night.
Wisconsin quickly grew their lead to 20 out of the break and kept the buffer until the final buzzer.
The Badgers were consistent from the 3-point line, making 50 percent of their attempts.
“Anytime you can knock down threes, that’s a heck of a weapon,” Gard said.
However, the only statistic the Wisconsin truly dominated was turnovers. The Lions outrebounded Wisconsin and had a similar shooting percentage.
Statistics do a poor job of demonstrating just how far the Lions have to climb to compete for a spot in the NCAA tournament.
“We’ll be okay,” Urgo said at the end of his first press conference.
The Lions next match up is on the road against their third ranked conference opponent in a row in No. 24 Nebraska.
WISCONSIN (11-4): Happ 10-24 2-2 22, Reuvers 5-7 0-1 11, Trice 2-9 0-0 5, Davison 5-9 1-2 14, Iverson 0-0 0-0 0, Ford 0-1 0-0 0, Thomas 3-4 0-0 7, Ballard 0-0 0-0 0, McGrory 0-0 0-0 0, Strickland 1-1 0-0 2, Pritzl 2-3 0-0 6, King 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 30-61 3-5 71.
PENN ST. (7-8): Stevens 9-18 4-4 22, Watkins 2-2 0-0 4, Bolton 2-10 2-2 7, Reaves 3-8 0-1 6, Dread 3-7 0-3 9, Buttrick 1-3 1-1 3, Harrar 0-1 0-0 0, Wheeler 0-1 0-0 0, Jones 0-3 1-2 1. Totals 20-53 8-13 52.
Halftime–Wisconsin 33-23. 3-Point Goals–Wisconsin 8-16 (Davison 3-3, Pritzl 2-2, Thomas 1-2, Reuvers 1-2, Trice 1-6, Ford 0-1), Penn St. 4-20 (Dread 3-7, Bolton 1-6, Stevens 0-1, Reaves 0-1, Harrar 0-1, Buttrick 0-2, Jones 0-2). Fouled Out–None. Rebounds–Wisconsin 28 (Happ 8), Penn St. 33 (Watkins 10). Assists–Wisconsin 17 (Happ, Trice 4), Penn St. 10 (Bolton 5). Total Fouls–Wisconsin 14, Penn St. 13. A–8,342 (15,261).