Jermaine Marshall had 19 points in Penn State's loss.
Penn State made a late charge in a tough environment during its Big Ten opener Thursday but came up short in a 60-51 loss to Wisconsin in the Kohl Center. The Nittany Lions (8-5, 0-1 Big Ten), who saw their four-game winning streak snapped, got big performances from guards D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall but couldn't come up with stops at crucial times in the final minutes. The Nittany Lions have still yet to win a game in the Kohl Center.
Top performers: Marshall had a game-high 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting, while Newbill added 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Nittany Lions. Ryan Evans, Jared Berggren and Ben Brust had 13 points apiece for the Badgers (10-4, 1-0), who shot just 39 percent from the field and 18 percent from 3-point range.
What went right: The Nittany Lions hung around despite not being able to generate many open looks or much offensive rhythm for most of the night and made a spirited run in the final minutes, cutting what had been a double-digit Badger lead to two points with just over three minutes to play. Penn State made Wisconsin work for (most of) its shots and found ways to get some points in the paint against a customarily tough Badger defense.
What went wrong: The Nittany Lions got very little contribution (just two combined points) from their bench and did not protect the basketball, committing 15 turnovers in a game in which possessions were at a premium. The defense and rebounding was solid for much of the game but Penn State did not get a body on Berggren when it mattered in the final minutes and it was costly.
Statworthy: Penn State had 23 personal fouls compared to just seven for Wisconsin. Newbill and Sasa Borovnjak both fouled out of the game. … The Nittany Lions had just eight 3-point attempts, making three, and only one free-throw attempt. Wisconsin shot 26 free throws but made only 13 of them. … Ross Travis had 11 rebounds but took only three shots and finished with two points, a late putback, in 31 minutes.
Summary: Penn State went toe-to-toe with a slightly down but still dangerous Wisconsin team for most of the first half and, after letting the game get away from it toward the end of that half, came charging back and nearly pulled out a historic win for the program. The Nittany Lions have much to work on from a technical standpoint and made key mistakes at key junctures at both ends, but their willingness to battle allowed them to have a chance to win late in the game and will serve them well going forward.
Up next: The Nittany Lions return to the Bryce Jordan Center to host No. 5 Indiana at 7 p.m. Monday.