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Wisconsin grabs share of Big Ten title

Mar 6, 2008 - 6:32 AM MADISON, Wisconsin (Ticker) -- Wisconsin ended a five-year drought without a conference title.

Marcus Landry scored 15 points to lead the No. 8 Badgers to a 77-41 rout of Penn State in the Big Ten Conference on Wednesday night.

In winning its sixth consecutive game, Wisconsin (25-4, 15-2 Big Ten) clinched a share of the league title and can win it outright with a victory over league bottom feeder Northwestern on Saturday.

"We had a great year last year but we didn't have anything to show for it," Badgers forward-center Brian Butch said. "I've been saying that for the last couple weeks. At least this year we will have something to show for it so far. But we have a lot of basketball ahead of us too.

"I think everyone in that locker room believes we can still achieve more of our goals. We have a lot more goals we want to achieve."

With Northwestern sporting a 1-16 record in conference play, that should not be much of a task for the Badgers, who defeated the punchless Nittany Lions (14-15, 6-11) for the eighth straight time overall and 11th in a row on their home floor.

Butch added 12 points for Wisconsin, which built a 30-point lead over Penn State less than eight minutes into the second half.

Having lost leading scorer Geary Claxton to a season-ending knee injury in mid-January, the Nittany Lions simply could not muster enough offense to stay close to the Badgers.

Penn State's problems were compounded by a knee injury to junior Jamelle Cornley, who is averaging 12.1 points per game and did not make the trip. That forced coach Ed DeChellis to start four freshmen.

After a 3-pointer by freshman Jeff Brooks pulled Penn State to within 14-10, the Nittany Lions managed just seven points for the final 13 1/2 minutes of the first half - five of those coming from Stanley Pringle in a 30-second span.

Wisconsin used a 13-2 run that was capped by a 3-pointer from Michael Flowers to open a 27-12 lead en route to a comfortable 34-17 advantage at the half. The 17 points matched Penn State's lowest output of the season.

Landry then scored the first four points of the second half as the Badgers extended the margin to 55-25 with just over 12 minutes to play.

Wisconsin made it 73-37 when Tanner Bronson, a former team manager, buried a long 3-pointer with 2 1/2 minutes to play.

The crowd stormed the court at the final buzzer to join the team in a celebration of a piece of the Big Ten championship.

"It's absolutely awesome, point blank," Butch said. "When I talked to the students, I said that this is why we play. That's why we run the hill. That's why we do all this stuff that nobody likes doing, for moments like this."

Senior backup center Greg Stiemsma contributed 10 points and six boards, helping Wisconsin to a dominating 39-23 edge on the glass.

Freshman Talor Battle scored 10 points for Penn State, which was denied its first three-game winning streak since 2001.