Badgers hold off Nittany Lions on road

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Associated Press
Thursday, January 21, 2016

STATE COLLEGE, Pa.—Ethan Happ had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Wisconsin held off Penn State for a 66-60 win on Thursday night. 

Nigel Hayes added 15 points for the Badgers who won their second straight Big Ten game. Brandon Taylor scored 13 for Penn State. 

Wisconsin (11-9, 3-4 Big Ten) led by as many as 17 in the middle of the second half but Taylor came alive late. Although Penn State’s leading scorer attempted just one first-half shot, he scored nine of Penn State’s final 11 points including his lone 3-pointer with 6:20 to play. It sparked a 12-3 run to pull Penn State within five with 3:16 left.

Devin Foster drilled a 3-pointer to cut Wisconsin’s lead to 63-60 with 30 seconds left. Happ secured the win with three free throws. 

Payton Banks added 11 points for Penn State (11-9, 2-5) while Shep Garner and Foster scored 10 apiece. 

Penn State earned its only lead of the night right out of the gate. But Julian Moore’s opening layup, augmented by a Jordan Dickerson free throw, wouldn’t hold up for long as the Badgers hit basket after basket. Happ was hot from the start with eight of Wisconsin’s first 17 points to spot the Badgers an eight-point lead with 10:10 to play in the first. 

Meanwhile, Penn State struggled to find openings. The Nittany Lions attempted just 16 first-half shots and took nearly 13 minutes to reach double figures. Taylor was kept in check by Hayes who manned up on Penn State’s versatile forward. Taylor had little help as his teammates struggled get shots against a Badgers defense that had held six other teams to season-low point totals over the past 12 games. 

Wisconsin led 27-18 at halftime when Chambers, clearly irked by his team’s season-low, first-half output, had words with an official before disappearing into the locker room. 

But the Nittany Lions eventually channeled their coach’s energy. They were without guard Josh Reaves (illness) and played the second half without Donovan Jack who left the game with a back injury. 

Taylor broke out of his shooting slump with his first points of the game with 13:27 remaining. He cut Wisconsin’s lead to 11 moments later with a spin move and layup around Bronson Koenig that gave a quiet crowd reason to cheer. 

Penn State would keep Wisconsin within two possessions but Happ’s presence at the free-throw line — he finished the game 10-for-15 — was the difference. 

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