January 3, 2009

Badgers outlast hot-shooting Penn State

MADISON, Wis. - Marcus Landry was fouled as he rose to the rim with less than 10 seconds remaining in Saturday's game, but that did not stop the senior from throwing down a thunderous dunk that sealed Penn State's fate Saturday at the Kohl Center.

When he landed, he pumped his chest in celebration knowing that dunk was the dagger in UW's 65-61 victory over a much-improved Nittany Lion squad.

"The guys came up to double team Trevon Hughes and they just left me back there," Landry, who tied his career high by finishing with a team high 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting, said in regards to UW's final scoring play. "I just went up and I knew I had to finish. If I would have missed, they could have came up and hit another three, so I just went up and dunked it."

The dunk was not Landry's only clutch shot of the game as a mere 36 seconds earlier he backed his defender down, spun around and hit a fade-a-way bank shot on the low block that gave UW a three point lead with just 43 seconds to play.

"I thought the shot Landry made there, the turnaround fade away on the baseline, it was a great shot," Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis, who has yet to win in the Kohl Center, said. "What are you going to do? You slap him on the butt and say great shot and move on."

Still, Penn State proved to be relentless as sophomore Talor Battle, who as the Big Ten's leading scorer was held to only six points, drove to the lane on the ensuing possession and drew a two-shot foul. But he only hit one-of-two attempts and his team never got closer than that two-point deficit.

"The shots he (Battle) did hit were contested," UW senior Joe Krabbenhoft, who logged his seventh career double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, said. "Nothing was easy."

For most of the first half, the Badgers could not separate themselves from Penn State by any more than four points until a 6-2 run, capped off by Jason Bohannon's three pointer as time ran out in the first half, gave the Badgers an eight-point lead at the break.

Wisconsin was unable to ride that momentum to start the second half, though, as it did not score its first field goal until nearly four minutes into the frame. Eventually, it refocused its effort and was able to open another eight-point margin with less than 10 minutes to play.

But four-straight Nittany Lions three pointers, three coming from Stanley Pringle who led all scorers with 26 points, on four consecutive possessions gave Penn State its first lead since midway through the first half.

"We knew Pringle could shoot, there were no surprises there and we knew Jamelle Cornley could do certain things," Ryan said. "The big difference was the four three's in a row and all four of them were from pretty good distance and were pretty good shots.

"But in four straight of their possessions there were 12 points and anytime you can do that…I mean most teams don't recover from that."

Fortunately for the Badgers, one of the Big Ten's finest home teams, they were able to recover. Even though Cornley (20 points) and Pringle (26 points) combined for all but 15 of PSU's points, the Badgers had enough in the tank to hold them off.

"We never care about the name on the jersey or whether we've handled them or they've handled (us)," Ryan said in reference to Penn State's recent efforts in Madison. "It's still about that 40 minutes. Battle is older, Pringle, he's obviously someone that has been around and Cornley played this year.

"Cornley not playing last year I think really hurt them, but it happens to us, it happens to other teams. There will be a lot of games in the Big Ten like this for everybody."

The Badgers had four players score in double-digits as Bohannon's 14 points and Hughes' 10 points joined Krabbenhoft and Landry as UW's top scorers. UW out-rebounded the Nittany Lions by one, 32-31, and committed only four turnovers in a relatively clean, but physical game.

Wisconsin will welcome in Northwestern Wednesday evening as it looks to improve its conference record to 3-0.

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