MADISON -- Bo Ryan’s experienced Big Ten championships before, but this one was just as special.
As the buzzer sounded after No. 10 Wisconsin’s 77-41 victory over Penn State Wednesday night at the Kohl Center, the Badgers’ head coach was tearing up with joy before he cut down the nets for his third Big Ten regular season title at UW.
“There’s no question that when you can get a championship and you cut a net, do those types of things, it’s pretty special,” Ryan said.
After Purdue’s 80-77 loss to Ohio State Tuesday night gave Wisconsin the chance to holds its own destiny for an outright Big Ten title, the Badgers came out Wednesday not trying to let that opportunity slip through their hands.
Wisconsin grabbed the lead right before the first media time-out and put the scoring barrage on Penn State with its outside shooting, going 4-of-8 from 3-point range in the first half.
And then the Badgers put it away.
Late in the first half, Wisconsin held Penn State scoreless for a stretch of 5 minutes and 21 seconds to help grab a 34-17 lead at halftime. In the locker room, the Badgers talked about not letting up.
“Even if we’re up at halftime, coming back out we can’t give up,” said junior forward Marcus Landry, who scored a game-high 15 points. “We got to keep fighting and keep on playing.”
It was only fitting it was Senior Night, too, because Wisconsin showed Penn State just how valuable experience can be.
As the seniors helped lead the way for the Badgers -- Brian Butch scored 12 points, Michael Flowers dished out nine assists, Greg Stiemsma tied a season-high of 10 points and Tanner Bronson knocked down a 3-pointer in his reserve minutes -- the Nittany Lions struggled with a young, inexperienced line-up.
Already without the services of preseason All-Big Ten selection Geary Claxton, Penn State suffered another blow as leading scorer Jamelle Cornley did not make the trip to Madison due to a knee injury. Without Claxton and Cornley, Penn State was forced to start a line-up featuring four freshmen and one junior.
The inexperience was exposed especially in the paint against UW’s two 7-foot seniors.
“We just aren't very good in (the post) right now,” DeChellis said. “We left our best post player home.”
Talor Battle led Penn State with 10 points.
After last season’s record-breaking season, Butch felt disappointed the 2006-07 Badgers came away without any championship gear. But that’s not the case this year, and he’s got at least three more games left in a season where outside expectations were low after the departures of Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor.
“We had a great year last year, but we had nothing to show for it,” Butch said.
“Now we have something to show for it.”