Badgers blow out Penn State
The Badgers simply don’t seem to miss here.
Senior guard Michael Flowers scored a collegiate-high 23 points to lead a ridiculous shooting display that netted the 17th-ranked Badgers their eighth straight victory, an 80-55 lashing that sent many of the 8,600 fans in attendance running for the exits with about eight minutes left.
But if you were a Penn State fan, this was one of those nights where you throw your hands up and shrug your shoulders. What are you going to do? Wisconsin (14-2, 4-0 Big Ten) was having one of those nights.
“It was a classic Wisconsin basketball game again. Another guy stepped up,” senior Brian Butch said after scoring nine points and grabbing 12 rebounds. “I’ve been saying it all along that there are going to be different guys stepping up every single night.”
Flowers led a charge of four players in double figures. Junior forward Marcus Landry added 16 points and four assists. Junior Joe Krabbenhoft had 12 points. Senior Greg Stiemsma equaled a season high with 10 points.
But that is what happens to a team when it shoots 59.6 percent (31 for 52), including and 55.6 percent from three-point range (10 for 18).
Adding salt to the wound for Penn State (10-6, 2-2) was a 19-0 run in the second half that stamped out its faint hope of a comeback.
Furthering the pain was the loss of Geary Claxton for the rest of the season. The senior swing man, who was averaging 18.7 points per game, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the first half.
Junior forward Jamelle Cornley led Penn State with 13 points.
“Every time a quarterback hands the ball off, they think they’re scoring a touchdown. So every time we shoot, you’ve got to think the ball is going in,” UW coach Bo Ryan said. “A lot of times in the course of a game it happens in streaks, but I thought over the course of the game we stayed fairly consistent.”
What else would you expect from a Badger team in Happy Valley? In scoring their fourth straight victory here, they also shot better than 50 percent for the fourth straight game here .
Wisconsin set the tone soon after the opening tip, scoring the first eight points of the game and 18 of the first 20.
Flowers was hot from the start. He had seven points, four rebounds and two assists during that stretch, scoring the first points of the game on a three-pointer from near the top of the key and later penetrating and dishing to Trevon Hughes and Stiemsma for a layup and dunk, respectively.
“I don’t know what Mike was, but I don’t know if he missed at all tonight,” Stiemsma said. “He hit some big shots for us.”
Flowers made nine of 12 shots and was 5 for 6 from three-point range. He also had six rebounds and five assists and made sure the team didn’t miss a beat after Hughes went to the bench because of foul trouble with 10 minutes left in the first half.
Wisconsin led by as many as 20 points in the first half and was up 40-24 at halftime. In the second half, Penn State twice threatened to cut that lead to single digits but the Badgers responded strongly each time.
After David Jackson scored the first five points of the second half to trim UW’s advantage to 40-29, the Badgers scored on seven straight possessions to push the lead to 18. And after the Nittany Lions cut the UW lead to 58-46 with 11:49 to play, the Badgers scored 19 straight points, stretching the lead to 77-46 with 3:57 to go.
“If you look at any big lead any team has, it doesn’t last that long,” Butch said. “For us to come back and hit some bit shots and do what we do normally, I think says a lot about the character of our team.”