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Penn State eyes elusive road win over No. 18 Wisconsin

Jan 14, 2023; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Connor Essegian (3) shoots the ball against Indiana Hoosiers guard Anthony Leal (3) in the second half at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Penn State Nittany Lions will be out to end decades of road futility against No. 18 Wisconsin on Tuesday, while the Badgers have lost three straight without their injured leading scorer.

Wisconsin (11-5, 3-3 Big Ten) has won 21 straight at home vs. Penn State, including 51-49 last season when the Badgers erased a 40-36 deficit with a 13-0 run. The Nittany Lions have not won in Madison, Wis., since a since a 78-67 win on Jan. 26, 1995, at the old UW Field House.

Penn State (12-5, 3-3 Big Ten) is coming off an 85-66 win at home over Indiana, tying a school record by draining 18 3-pointers in its largest-ever victory over the Hoosiers.

The Badgers lost 63-45 at Indiana on Saturday after trailing by just one at the half. It was Wisconsin’s third consecutive loss without forward Tyler Wahl, out with an ankle injury. The preseason all-Big Ten pick leads the team with 13.2 points per game and is second in rebounding with 6.4, but more importantly his senior leadership.

Wahl has shown improvement, but his status for Penn State has not been determined.

“He’s another post presence, which has a domino effect on everything else,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “Tyler will help in some ways, but we’ve got to continue to get better.”

Freshman Connor Essegian scored 14 points, making him the lone player in double figures against Indiana as the Badgers shot 32.1 percent and were just 5 of 24 from 3-point range. The Hoosiers were just 1 of 8 from deep but had 42 points in the paint.

Chucky Hepburn averages 12.7 points and Steven Crowl adds 12.4 points and a team-best 6.6 boards for Wisconsin.

Against Indiana, the Nittany Lions shot 58.1 percent (18 for 31) from 3-point range, the fourth time this season they have shot better than 50 percent from beyond the arc. Seth Lundy and Andrew Funk each hit 7 of 12 from deep.

Despite the long-range shooting, Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry credited his team’s defense.

“We had to get back to guarding, we had to get back to being aggressive, we had to get back to being physical,” Shrewsberry said. “It was now or never. They were coming in here hungry, we were coming in here hungry, and we luckily came out on the right side.”

Jalen Pickett leads the Nittany Lions with 17.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Lundy adds 14.4 points and 6.6 boards, with Funk averaging 12.2 points.

Penn State has attempted almost 100 more 3-pointers than their opponents, shooting 39.5 percent (189 for 478) from downtown. The Nittany Lions are fourth in Division I with 11.1 3-pointers per game and 12th in attempts at 28.1.

Both Penn State and Wisconsin take care of the ball. The Nittany Lions entered the weekend first in the country in fewest turnovers per game at 8.6, followed by Wisconsin at 9.3.

“We’ve talked about move on to next, and you have to,” Gard said. “You have to have a short memory whether things go well or they don’t go so well, because within about 72 hours, we’re playing a team that plays completely different than what we saw today. We won’t see eight 3s, we might see eight 3s attempted in the first four minutes with how Penn State is playing.”

–Field Level Media