Online Now 934

'Different' team ready for B10 play

Penn State enters Big Ten play on a four-game winning streak, during which it has averaged an impressive 78.5 points per game.

Penn State has been hot offensively in its last four games but could find points harder to come by in Madison.

"We've had a little bit of a success the last four games, which is great," coach Patrick Chambers said Wednesday, "but it's different on the road."

And it is usually different still in the Kohl Center, where the Nittany Lions (8-4) will take on Wisconsin (9-4) at 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Now in his 12th season as the Badgers' coach, Bo Ryan has never lost to Penn State in Madison, and though his team has already been clipped at Kohl once this season (Virginia beat Wisconsin 60-54) it is outscoring its opposition there by an average margin of 77.2-49.3. The Cavaliers are the only visiting team to have topped 56 points there this season.

Chambers' team has averaged 56.8 points in four games away from the Bryce Jordan Center this season and he knows the Badgers, who love to grind down the shot clock and opponents' spirits on both ends of the floor with tough, deliberate play, will make it tough for his young team to continue their high-scoring spree.

"You're going to see all our weaknesses exposed," he said. "In a possession game, that's what happens. If you're not making that rotation, aren't jogging back that hard, if you're not doing the little things, you're going to see the complete opposite on the road. Every team in this league can shoot -- it's who's going to play the longest and hardest. Am I happy playing at Wisconsin right now? No. But we will definitely learn a lot about this team."

Wisconsin is getting close to 25 combined points per game from forwards Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans, and guard Ben Brust checks in at 11.8 points per game and is one of five Badgers shooting better than 40 percent from the arc. Wisconsin's offense suffered a big blow, though, when point guard Josh Gasser was lost for the season with a knee injury in late October.

Chambers, who had to adjust to life without his own point guard, Tim Frazier, admires the way Ryan has retooled his lineup to replace Gasser.

"They're Wisconsin," Chambers said. "They're not changing much."

The same cannot be said of the Nittany Lions, according to their head coach. Tonight's game, and the rest of the games on a tough Big Ten schedule, will be a test, but Chambers likes the way the Nittany Lions have tackled tests in both games and practices this year.

"This isn't the same old Penn State with their approach and mentality," he said. "This is a group that's playing with confidence and doesn't fear failure. … Over the next 18 games you might not see that, but for the most part every day I see it in practice. They want to change perception."

Already have an account? Sign In