Good News/Bad News from Penn State’s Loss to Wisconsin

Do you want the good new first or the bad news?

We’ll start with the good news.

The good news is that Mike Watkins played the way that Penn State fans have been hoping for since he stepped foot on the hardwood at the BJC. Watkins was everywhere scoring 22 points on 9-13 shooting with seven rebounds and seven blocks.

The redshirt sophomore stayed out of foul trouble and was able to play with aggressiveness the whole game.

It was the kind of dominant game that you can build a blowout on. The Nitanny Lions went early and often to Watkins who was soaring above the rim on backside lobs during the first half.

Things were better on Monday night from the free throw line last night as well, where Penn State shot 84 percent after a tough outing from the charity stripe on the road vs NC State.

The bad news is that despite all of that, Penn State still lost 64-63 to a Wisconsin team that was just blown out by Ohio State by 25 points in their previous game. It wasn’t even close for the middle 20 minutes of the game either. With 9:40 left in the 2nd half, Wisconsin had a 17 point lead, their largest of the night.

It took a massive comeback effort from Shep Garner Garner who scored 12 points in that final 10 mintues to help pull the Nittany Lions within one.

The reason all of this happened was because Tony Carr had a dreadful night offensively, shooting 5-22 on the night, starting out 1-9 in the first half.

“I don’t think we played our best basketball and we still gave our chance to win. We had the ball down one with ten seconds left and the ball in our best players hands,” Head Coach Patrick Chambers said after the loss.

It’s a frustrating sight for Penn State basketball fans who were hoping that the Nittany Lions would start out fast in the Big 10, with a down Iowa and Wisconsin to start the early conference season. The Nittany Lions can’t seem to put it all together this season. When Stevens plays well, Carr struggles. When Watkins dominates, neither play well.

And no matter what, the bench does not produce. The Nittany Lions got exactly one point from the bench last night, which is better than the zero points on the road versus Iowa.

To make matters worse (or better) Wisconsin’s best player, Ethan Happ, was largely ineffective on Monday night. The redshirt junior got into early foul trouble thanks to the strong play of Watkins, and eventually fould out with 14 seconds left in the game. Happ had a grand total of 9 points and 10 rebounds on the night.  Even when he was off the floor, the Nittany Lions had a hard time driving the ball into the paint, which was the plan according to Badgers Head Coach Greg Gard,

“We made life hard on them tonight, specifically Tony Carr.”

Carr did end up with 16 points and nine rebounds on the night. Lamar Stevens was also held in check with four points and  six rebounds.

Next up for the Nittany Lions is a 4 pm clash with George Mason on Saturday at the BJC. You can hear the game locally in State College on 1450 AM and follow along @ESPN Radio 1450 on Twitter.