STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Even though the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team has dominated its series with Penn State, the Badgers have had to do plenty of nail-biting during trips to the Bryce Jordan Center in recent years.
There was little angst Sunday night, though.
Senior center Ethan Happ finished with 22 points, and the No. 22 Badgers led almost the entire game en route to a 71-52 victory over the Nittany Lions.
While Happ led the way, he had plenty of help as Wisconsin (11-4, 3-1 Big Ten) ended its first two-game losing streak of the season.
Sophomore guard Brad Davison added 14 points and seven rebounds, while sophomore forward Nate Reuvers had 11 points.
The bench also did its part, led by Charlie Thomas.
The senior forward scored seven points in 10 minutes.
After going a combined 11 of 43 from 3-point range in back-to-back losses to Western Kentucky and Minnesota, the Badgers went 8 of 16 against Penn State. Davison led the way by going 3 of 3, and junior guard Brevin Pritzl made both of his attempts.
Junior forward Lamar Stevens scored 22 points to lead the Nittany Lions (7-8, 0-4), who were without their coach. Patrick Chambers served a one-game suspension Sunday for shoving a player in a loss at Michigan three days earlier, and he was replaced by associate head coach Keith Urgo.
Penn State has now lost 11 consecutive times to Wisconsin and is 2-24 against the Badgers since the start of the 2004-05 season.
Wisconsin has now won its last seven games in State College, but the previous six were decided by an average of 4.8 points. A year ago, Wisconsin held on for a 64-63 win here despite leading by 17 points in the second half and by 14 with under 5 minutes to play.
Happ scored eight points to help the Badgers open the second half with a 16-2 run, effectively putting the game out of reach.
The Badgers led 33-23 at the half despite Happ going 5 of 15 from the field.
Davison helped pick up the scoring slack with nine points, and Thomas provided a boost of the bench with a 3-pointer and a basket inside.
Penn State, meanwhile, couldn’t get out of its own way. The Nittany Lions turned the ball over on 10 of their first 20 possessions, including six in a row at one point.
To the Badgers’ credit, they did a good job of filling passing lanes. Plus, sophomore point guard D’Mitrik Trice and Reuvers both forced takeaways by drawing charges.
Wisconsin used a 22-6 run to build a 15-point cushion with under 4 minutes to go in the first half.
But Penn State answered with a 10-2 burst to pull within eight before Davison hit a fallaway jumper to send Wisconsin into the locker room with a double-digit cushion.