University Park, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Enjoying their longest conference win streak since the 1940-41 campaign, the fifth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers are set to challenge the Penn State Nittany Lions in Big Ten Conference action at the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday night.
Wisconsin, which is all alone at the top of the Big Ten standings with 11 wins in 12 opportunities, has won eight consecutive league bouts thanks to a 68-49 romp over visiting Illinois on Sunday. The squad has also tied a school record by winning five straight Big Ten bouts by double figures.
The only two setbacks in 25 games for Wisconsin have been against Rutgers and nationally-ranked Duke.
While the Badgers enjoy the conference penthouse, Penn State can be found closer to the basement with only three wins in 13 chances. The only teams behind PSU entering the week were Northwestern and the Scarlet Knights. The Lions are coming off a tough loss to nationally-ranked Maryland on Valentine's Day, 76-73, in Happy Valley, the second straight setback and the fourth in the last five contests for PSU.
The Badgers romped over the Lions in the first meeting of the season on New Year's Eve, putting up an 89-72 victory at home as Frank Kaminsky registered a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Penn State, which shot an impressive 53.7 percent from the floor, was led by D.J. Newbill with a game- high 29 points on 11-of-18 efficiency from the field.
As a result of that first clash, the conference opener for both squads, the all-time series now stands at 32-10 in favor of Wisconsin.
Aside from Josh Gasser who was held to only three points, the starters for Wisconsin were dominant during their victory against visiting Illinois on Sunday, thanks to Kaminsky and his double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. Bronson Koenig responded with 15 points and four assists, followed by Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker with 14 and 10 points, respectively, as well as four rebounds and two assists apiece.
Thanks to his 10th double-double of the campaign, Kaminsky was named the Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday for the third time this season. Kaminsky leads UW in both scoring and rebounding with averages of 17.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest. A punishing force on the interior, he also has a team- best 38 blocked shots and has managed to lead the program in assists this late into the campaign with 59, making him one of a very rare breed indeed. Dekker checks in with 13.0 ppg and Hayes another 12.4 ppg for a program that limits foes to only 55.9 ppg.
In a game that featured eight ties and five lead changes, Penn State led by as many as seven points over the Terrapins in the first half of their recent meeting, but was up by only one at the break. Unfortunately, the second half wasn't as kind to the hosts as they allowed Maryland to escape with the three- point win.
Newbill led the Nittany Lions with 25 points, accounting for four assists as well, while Geno Thorpe tacked on 17 points and Brandon Taylor 11, although the latter shot just 4-of-13 from the floor, which included a 2-of-8 showing behind the 3-point line.
Newbill has been the leading scorer for the Lions in nearly every game this season, which is why he is one of the top producers in the Big Ten with 20.8 ppg. As someone who does not shy away from contact, Newbill has visited the free-throw line 175 times in 26 games, almost twice as often as his closest teammate, making 131 of those opportunities. Taylor checks in with 10.0 ppg for a unit that is posting 68.1 ppg and giving up 65.9 ppg.