Published January 31, 2012
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The Penn State coach paced the sideline wearing jet-black Nike sneakers and rolled-up khakis.
It was basketball coach Patrick Chambers' tribute to the late Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno.
The Nittany Lions fell 52-46 to No. 19 Wisconsin, but Chambers' attire provided a highlight at the Jordan Center on Tuesday night — five days after a public memorial service for Paterno was held in the same arena.
"It was a tribute to Coach Paterno and what he's done and what he's meant to this university," Chambers said.
Jordan Taylor scored 18 points, including a 3-pointer from the top of key with 1:44 left, and the Badgers held on for their sixth straight victory.
Taylor made six free throws over the final minute, helping the Badgers (18-5, 7-3 Big Ten) overcome an early nine-point deficit.
Trailing 40-38, Penn State (10-13, 2-8) missed on three tries to tie or take the lead. Jon Graham missed two foul shots before Jermaine Marshall misfired on a 3 and missed a layup after grabbing his own rebound.
Taylor took over from there with his clutch 3. He scored 13 of Wisconsin's last 17 points.
Tim Frazier led Penn State with 21 points.
It was Penn State's first home game since Paterno died Jan. 22 from lung cancer, a little more than two months after he was fired from the school in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal involving a former assistant coach. Paterno was never charged in the scandal.
Chambers and his coaching staff were already scheduled to wear sneakers Tuesday night as part of Coaches vs. Cancer awareness week.
"I wanted to bring that to the forefront and let people know I'm on board and we're going to work extremely hard with Coaches Versus Cancer and do whatever we can to beat cancer," Chambers said.
But he took it a step further by adding the rolled-up khakis — just like JoePa used to across the street from the Jordan Center at Beaver Stadium. Chambers called the look a "one-time thing."
Before the game, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan took his team to the bronzed statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium. Ryan said he left a hat at the makeshift memorial inscribed with the phrase "To the greatest teacher ever."
Paterno won a Division I-record 409 games over 46 seasons.
"Why wouldn't you?" Ryan responded rhetorically when asked about taking his players to the statue. "I would've played for the guy. I would've coached with the guy."
Six-foot-10 center Jared Berggren added eight points and 10 rebounds for Wisconsin, helping to get the offense going down low in the second half after his team struggled from the field early.
Berggren scored six of the Badgers' first eight points of the second half, before Taylor closed it out.
The much-anticipated point guard matchup with Taylor and Frazier got off to a slow start with the two combining for just nine points in the first half.
They seemed to go back-and-forth down the stretch in the second.
Frazier scored 17 points after halftime, often maneuvering in the lane around the Badgers' tough defense for mid-range jumpers or one-handed floaters. Wisconsin was allowing just 49.6 points per game on opponents' 36 percent shooting — both NCAA lows.
Penn State shot 36 percent for the game but made just seven field goals in the second half, six by Frazier.
His jumper got the Nittany Lions within 40-38 with 3:36 left, setting up the stage for the potential late heroics by Graham and Marshall.
Instead, it was Taylor who stole the show — as usual.
He finished 4 of 12 from the field but 8 of 10 from the foul line. He added five assists and three rebounds.
Ryan Evans added 11 points and six rebounds for the Badgers, who got a nice lift going into Saturday's showdown against No. 3 Ohio State.
Marshall finished with 13 points, 10 in the first half. He scored six points during a 10-0 run to help Penn State build an 18-9 lead late in the first half.