STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Sam Decker scored 22 points and Frank Kaminsky added 16 as No. 5 Wisconsin overcame a late Penn State surge to defeat the Nittany Lions 55-47 Wednesday night.
Dekker and Penn State’s D.J. Newbill waged an entertaining scoring battle. Newbill scored 29 points, but the next-highest scorer for Penn State (15-12, 3-11) was Brandon Taylor with seven.
The Badgers (24-2, 12-1), despite shooting 39 percent, were aided by Nigel Hayes’ 13 rebounds and nine points.
Wisconsin’s 24th victory marked the school’s best start in program history.
Seventeen of Penn State’s 27 games have been decided by eight points or fewer and the Lions stuck around in this one. But they were 2 of 13 from long range and got to the foul line just three times; Penn State’s players outside of Newbill were just 8 of 33 from the field.
Wisconsin never trailed and pulled out to a 39-26 lead at the outset of the second half when Dekker sandwiched a pair of buckets around two from Hayes.
That forced a Penn State timeout, then neither team scored for more than three minutes before Newbill’s layup for Penn State and another Dekker 3-pointer that put the Badgers up by 14.
The teams combined for just 21 points in the first 11 minutes of the half, and the Badgers patiently built a 46-30 lead. Hayes and Kaminsky dominated the boards and Penn State went cold.
But Newbill brought the Nittany Lions back within striking distance when he put in seven straight points and Geno Thorpe added two more to make it 48-43.
Newbill had a chance to bring the Lions within three but tripped over his own man and Kaminsky picked up the loose ball and was eventually fouled. He hit both to make it 50-43 and followed that with a strong drive and a layup for a nine-point Badger lead with 2:09 to go.
Kaminsky and Dekker scored the Badgers’ first 11 points and Newbill pumped in the Lions’ initial 12. Two of Kaminsky’s early points came on a thunderous slam off an uncontested drive through the lane, while the bulk of Newbill’s were pull-up jumpers.
Wisconsin took a 19-8 lead, then went on a dry spell in which it scored just five points in 10:30 as Penn State closed to 24-21 late in the half.
Dekker scored five straight and Kaminsky two free throws countered a Julian Moore 3-pointer as the Badgers pulled ahead by seven at halftime.
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