Hughes paces Badgers past Nittany Lions
It didn’t matter much Sunday that the Badgers’ leading scorer, Jon Leuer, spent much of the afternoon on the bench with foul trouble. Trevon Hughes scored 18 points and the Badgers took advantage of open perimeter looks to defeat Penn State, 63-46, on Sunday for their sixth straight victory.
Coach Bo Ryan likes the way his team is getting outside shots.
“From the post, you catch and you shoot ... It’s the highest percentage three year in and year out,” Ryan said. “Through the post. Good things happen through the post.”
Talor Battle had 15 points, while David Jackson added 13 points and five rebounds for Penn State, which lost its 11th straight to Wisconsin (12-2, 2-0 Big Ten) going back to 2003.
As usual, Battle was the Nittany Lions’ top option, but rarely found easy looks with Hughes and fellow guards Jason Bohannon and Jordan Taylor defending him. Jackson gave Penn State (8-6, 0-2) a spark with scrappy play around the bucket.
Otherwise, coach Ed DeChellis’ Nittany Lions became the latest to succumb to Wisconsin’s defense. The Badgers entered Sunday allowing 57.2 points a game, best in the Big Ten.
“It’s just demoralizing when you can’t score,” DeChellis said. “We have to have a sense of urgency where you have to step up and make some basketball plays.”
The Badgers hit their open looks on the perimeter in key spots and finished 8 of 19 from behind the three-point arc (42 percent).
Wisconsin built a 15-point lead early in the second half after Leuer hit an open three from the right wing to make it 37-22.
But Leuer, who entered the game as Wisconsin’s top scorer at 16.5 points, was a non-factor most of the afternoon after picking up two early fouls for the second straight contest.
Still, the Badgers led by double digits for most of the second half.
The Nittany Lions’ best opportunities were in transition, and Andrew Jones’ free throw after getting fouled on an offensive rebound cut the lead to 49-40 with 10:59 left.
But Tim Jarmusz responded on Wisconsin’s ensuing possession with an open three from the left wing, and Hughes added another three to extend the lead to 15 with 9:42 left. Five different Badgers hit threes on the afternoon.
“When you run an offense like that, it’s pretty hard to guard,” said Bohannon who finished with 11 points and shot 3-of-5 from three-point range.
The loss left DeChellis wondering again how to guard Wisconsin’s swing offense. He said he may get his team to start playing more zone to try to shore up the perimeter.
The Badgers, who scored their sixth straight win at the Jordan Center, had won their previous 10 against Penn State by an average of 20 points.
“It’s just containing the ball,” DeChellis said. “With our perimeter defense, we have to contain the ball so they can’t drive and get other guys some shots.”
Hughes, a senior, added some flash, too, in the first half when he got a steal from Battle, then with his back to the basket flipped the ball over his head to Taylor for an easy layup and a 10-point lead. He finished with a game-high seven assists.