UW MBB: Badgers’ re-enforced defense shuts down Nittany Lions

BY MIKE LUCAS

UWBadgers.com Senior Writer

Khalil Iverson played only nine minutes in the first half here Tuesday night. He didn't take a shot. But the gravity-defying 6-foot-5 sophomore did his homework and it paid off with a ferocious slam in the second half of Wisconsin's 82-55 win over Penn State at the Kohl Center.

Although the Badgers were firmly in control of the game — having built a 55-41 lead on the strength of a 13-2 run following intermission — Iverson injected some energy into the building, and his own game, by dunking Bronson Koenig's in-bounds lob over the Nittany Lions' Terrence Samuel.

"I told him (Koenig) in the first half that the lob might be open — just look at me," said Iverson, who had been studying how Penn State was defending out-of-bounds plays under its own basket. "We made eye contact, he threw it up, I had room to jump and if I get that …"

Look out below.

Samuel, a member of UConn's 2014 national championship team, never left his feet. Forty-five seconds later, Iverson got a floor burn steal after outhustling Payton Banks to a loose ball. Iverson casually flipped it up to Nigel Hayes who threw a long pass to D'Mitrik Trice for an uncontested lay-up.

On the next offensive possession, Trice got the ball on the left wing to Iverson who buried a shot from beyond the arc for only his second 3-pointer of the season — his first came in a win at Marquette where he scored a career-high 16 points. It was only his fourth triple (4-of-20) in 54 games at Wisconsin.

"The dive on the floor gave us a spark," Iverson said, "and it gave me a little confidence."

Over that 82-second span, Iverson had a dunk, a steal and a triple.

"He can help us in a lot of different ways," said UW associate head coach Lamont Paris. "He can help by attacking and slashing — he has improved off the dribble. With his physical presence, he's so strong, he could be a guy around the basket where we could throw the ball to him down there."

But he admitted that Iverson is not yet at that point in his post-up game.

"Some of the things that he contributes most are the tremendous plays," Paris said. "Like some of the rebounds he has gotten. Like some of the times he has made hard cuts to the basket and we've found him. Like some of the transition opportunities that have presented themselves.

"He has made some spectacular plays and really sparked us."

Iverson is striving to become more consistent in his contributions. He has not scored more than six points in the Big Ten. He played just 11 minutes against both Michigan and Minnesota. He didn't attempt a shot against the Wolverines. He made 1-of-2 against the Gophers with one rebound.

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