MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin made the most of its immediate opportunity to avenge a rare loss to Penn State.
Freshman Jonathan Davis scored a career-high 17 points and the 19th-ranked Badgers resumed their dominance of the Nittany Lions with a 72-56 victory on Tuesday night.
Wisconsin’s 13-game winning streak over the Nittany Lions had ended with an 81-71 loss at Penn State on Saturday. The Big Ten foes played twice in four days because COVID-19 issues forced the postponement of their scheduled Jan. 3 matchup at Penn State.
“It was a cool situation playing a team back-to-back,” said Trevor Anderson, who had nine points for Wisconsin. “I don’t think we’ve ever done that ever in anybody’s career here. Turning the page quickly and getting back and playing the team that got the better of you, that’s always fun, to beat them the next time.”
Wisconsin (14-5, 8-4 Big Ten) hasn’t lost at home to Penn State since 1995 and has won 27 of the last 30 meetings.
Brad Davison scored 13 points and made a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, giving Wisconsin a 33-31 lead it never relinquished. The shot was part of an 18-2 spurt that included two other 3s from Davison.
Micah Potter had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Badgers. Myreon Jones scored 14 points and John Harrar added 10 for Penn State (6-8, 3-7).
Penn State stayed close early by forcing turnovers, the same thing it did in Saturday’s win. Wisconsin committed 12 turnovers at Penn State and had 15 on Tuesday, including 11 in the first half.
But the Badgers listened to coach Greg Gard’s halftime instructions and took care of the ball as they pulled away.
“His message was just to slow down, hit the brakes a little bit, be composed, make the right reads and just really slow down,” Davis said.
Davis committed six turnovers but shot 6 of 7 and made all four of his 3-point attempts to end a prolonged slump from beyond the arc. Davis hadn’t made a 3-pointer since Dec. 22 and had gone 0 for 8 from 3-point range since.
“To see that first one in a while go down was a really good feeling,” Davis said.
The Badgers scored 15 of the first 17 points in the second half to extend their lead to 48-33. Penn State didn’t get closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Penn State interim coach Jim Ferry said. “They really came in, they locked in, they guarded us. I really felt we had some good looks in the second half. I really did. At the beginning, we had a flurry of open 3s and layups, even a couple of free throws that we missed that normally we’ll make. But you’ve got to give them credit. They’re an exceptional team.”
Penn State: The Nittany Lions’ 81-point outburst on Saturday was their highest total in the history of a series that the Badgers now lead 40-11. They shot 45% in that game. In the rematch, Penn State shot 38.6% and went 6 of 24 from 3-point range while posting its lowest point total of the season.
Wisconsin: D’Mitrik Trice, who entered averaging a team-high 14.1 points per game, was held scoreless. Trice shot 0 for 5 with six assists, four rebounds and only one turnover. The fifth-year senior scored six points on Saturday.
While Wisconsin had cutouts fill most of the seats in the first five rows behind the benches with no fans in attendance, a couple of seats instead had signs saying “In Memory of Ritchie Davis” and “In Memory of Tracy Krueger.”
Davis, a prominent organizer of grassroots basketball programs in Wisconsin, died Sunday. He was 48. Krueger was officiating a high school basketball game in Richland Center, Wisconsin, on Monday night when he collapsed and died. He was 69.
“Two terrific people who had great impacts on the game of basketball and sports in general in this state,” Gard said. “I’ve known Tracy for almost 40 years.”
Wisconsin has been sliding down the AP Top 25. That could change if the Badgers beat No. 12 Illinois this weekend.
Penn State hosts Maryland on Friday.
Wisconsin visits Illinois on Saturday.