Three Observations from Wisconsin's Win at No. 20 Penn State

Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Kocorowski

Three days after a rough home loss to Illinois, Wisconsin responded in huge fashion inside the Bryce Jordan Center with a 58-49 win over No. 20 Penn State on Saturday.

The Big Ten victory saw Micah Potter assert himself on the offensive end, the team contain the Nittany Lions' transition game and Greg Gard's team make plays when its foes made pushes in the final 20 minutes. breaks down three observations from the conference clash in Happy Valley before Wisconsin (10-6 overall, 3-2 Big Ten) turns the page quickly for a Tuesday home contest against Maryland.

Again, Micah Potter Shows Offensive Presence

Lost in the loss to Illinois, the big man scored 13 points for UW -- 11 in that first half -- on way to being one of two players to reach double digits in scoring earlier this week. 

On the road and when the rest of the team started off cold on Saturday, he scored UW's first 12 points of the contest. In the first 20 minutes against the Nittany Lions, he scored 18 of his career-high 24 points in that first half. He finished the game shooting 9-of-14 overall from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range. He also continued to stay perfect for the season from the charity stripe in making each of his free throw attempts.

When Potter became eligible, many knew he would make an impact but just how much was unknown. Wisconsin now owns a 5-1 record with the Buckeyes transfer available to play, and that includes three keys road wins at Tennessee, Ohio State and Penn State.

In six games, the redshirt junior averages 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in about 15.5 minutes per contest.

Defense Neutralized Penn State's Transition Game and Offensive Rebounds

On Thursday after Wisconsin's practice, assistant coach Alando Tucker mentioned containing Penn State's transition game, and Potter called out limiting the offensive rebounds that could wind up in the hands of Mike Watkins or John Harrar. 

Against Penn State on Saturday, UW out-rebounded Penn State 40-33 overall. The Nittany Lions grabbed just six boards on the offensive glass compared to the Badgers' nine. Watkins and Harrar brought down a combined three between them in that latter category.

Head coach Greg Gard's team also limited Penn State to seven fast break points and eight points off of turnovers. In another positive trend for UW, it only coughed up possession nine times.

On the afternoon, Wisconsin held Penn State to 32.7% shooting (17 of 52), just 23.8% from three-point range (five of 21). Lamar Stevens recorded a team-high 19 points and 13 rebounds, but the Badgers bottled him up for seven of 17 attempts from the field. Watkins did not score and only grabbed four rebounds in 15 minutes of play.

Wisconsin Answered Penn State's Push in the Second Half

The Badgers extended their lead to 12 at 39-27 with 14:13 remaining in the second half -- the largest of the day -- but the Nittany Lions worked its way back to nearly make it a one-possession game. 

However, UW did not wilt under pressure. Redshirt sophomore Izaiah Brockington missed a free throw and an opportunity to pull the contest to within three points with 10:43 in regulation. About a minute later, a Tyler Wahl offensive rebound eventually led to a Nate Reuvers dunk and an "and one" chance with being fouled. He hit the subsequent free throw, and lead went back up to seven at the 9:46 mark.

With 2:03 remaining in the game, Brockington again had an opportunity to close the gap, this time to six with being at the free throw line. However, he made just one of two and Potter grabbed his 12th rebound. With the shot clock winding down, point guard Trevor Anderson attacked the paint and went with a left-handed layup. That extended UW's lead to nine and capped the scoring for both teams.