Penn State coach Pat Chambers is looking for big things from his young team, and the Nittany Lions took a big step this past weekend in fulfilling Chambers’ preseason declaration that this is the best team he’s had in his seven years in Happy Valley. On the other hand, Penn State’s opponent Monday, Wisconsin, which relies on four freshmen rotation players, is looking for anything positive after suffering its worst home loss in nearly two decades when it visits the Nittany Lions on Monday.
Chambers loves his trio of sophomores and all three came through Saturday as Penn State snapped a 12-game losing streak at Iowa with a 78-73 victory despite allowing the Hawkeyes to shoot 50.9 percent from the field. Lamar Stevens scored 22 points, including two free throws with four seconds left to seal the victory, Mike Watkins added 19 points, seven rebounds and three blocks and Tony Carr chipped in 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds. “I was really inspired by this team. We’re still young, but I was inspired by how we approached Friday’s practice (after a loss to North Carolina State on Wednesday) and today’s game,” Chambers told reporters after the Lions drained 12-of-23 from beyond the arc. “The guys really stepped up at critical times, we were more consistent and we definitely matured as a team today.” In Madison, Ohio State shot a blistering 78.3 percent, including 7-for-8 from 3-point range, in the first half en route to an 83-58 decision - the Badgers worse loss at the Kohl Center since the building opened in 1998.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT WISCONSIN (3-5, 0-1 Big Ten): The Badgers, who trailed the Buckeyes by 31 early in the second half, got 16 points from freshman guard Brad Davison, who is second on the team in scoring at 11.5 points per game and leads the team in steals (17) and 3-pointers made (18). However, nobody else could step up and help out the only returning starter, Ethan Happ (16.3 points per game, 8.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists), who was limited to seven points and six rebounds as the Buckeyes paid extra attention to the 6-foot-10 junior. Guard D’Mitrik Trice is the team’s third double-digit scorer at 10.3 points per game and is second in 3-pointers with 11.
ABOUT PENN STATE (7-2, 1-0): Carr, who did not score until late in the first half, shot just 5-of-15 from the field, while Watkins shot 9-of-13 in a career-high 36 minutes and Stevens was 7-of-15 in 28 minutes. The 6-foot-4 Carr leads the team in scoring (20.6 points per game) and assists (4.9) while draining 19-of-32 shots from the arc and grabbing 4.5 rebounds. Stevens adds 15.2 points and 6.7 rebounds and Watkins adds 11.1 points on 67.8 percent shooting, 7.4 rebounds and 3.3 blocks.
1. Wisconsin beat Penn State 82-55 in Madison last season as Happ had 14 points and eight rebounds while the Lions’ trio of then-freshmen combined for 20 points on 6-of-20 shooting.
2. Prior to the Ohio State game, the Badgers faced four ranked opponents in their five previous games, losing each contest.
3. One area of concern for Chambers is a bench that contributed no points against the Hawkeyes and took just five shots in a combined 39 minutes.
PREDICTION: Penn State 72, Wisconsin 65