Saturday's Big Ten roundup: Rutgers tops No. 14 Wisconsin

Associated Press

Madison, Wis. — Rutgers understands it must prove it can beat quality teams on the road to get back into consideration for the NCAA Tournament.

The Scarlet Knights took a giant step in that direction Saturday by winning at Wisconsin for the first time and posting their third straight victory over a ranked opponent. Ron Harper Jr. scored 21 points and Rutgers went on a late 11-0 run in a 73-65 victory over the 14th-ranked Badgers.

Rutgers' Ron Harper (24) shoots against Wisconsin's Chris Vogt (33).

The Scarlet Knights (15-9, 9-5 Big Ten) knocked off then-No. 13 Michigan State 84-63 a week ago Saturday and No. 16 Ohio State 66-64 on Wednesday.

This marks the first time in program history they've beaten a Top 25 team in three consecutive games. Of course, part of that is due to a quirk in the schedule enabling Rutgers to face a ranked team in three straight games. The last time Rutgers won three straight matchups with Top 25 foes was back in the 2001-02 season.

Wisconsin (19-5, 10-4) dropped a half-game behind No. 13 Illinois (17-6, 10-3) in the Big Ten standings. Illinois hosts Northwestern on Sunday.

Rutgers has a 4-1 record against Top 25 teams this season and owns four wins over ranked Big Ten teams for the first time ever. Rutgers also beat a top-ranked Purdue team on Dec. 9.

Even so, the Scarlet Knights began the day just 94th in the NET rankings, giving their postseason hopes little margin for error. Rutgers owns a 3-7 road record and dug itself a deep early hole with a three-game November skid that included losses to DePaul, Lafayette and UMass.

Rutgers has tried to make up for that early slump by stepping up in Big Ten competition. Saturday's game could answer some questions about their road issues.

This marked the highest-ranked team Rutgers has beaten on the road since winning at No. 13 Pittsburgh on Jan. 26, 2008.

Tyler Wahl led Wisconsin with a career-high 23 points and Steven Crowl added 12.

Geo Baker scored 16 and Clifford Omoryui had 10 for Rutgers, which shot 51% from the floor and went 7 of 12 on 3-point attempts. Rutgers built a nine-point lead in the first half before Wisconsin responded.

More Big Ten Results

(At) Minnesota 76, Penn State 70: Sixth-year senior Eric Curry scored a career-high 22 points, Payton Willis scored 13 of his 18 in the second half and Minnesota beat Penn State 76-70 on Saturday night to snap a five-game losing streak.

Willis made 3 of 4 from 3-point range and finished with 10 assists and six rebounds. E.J. Stephens scored 13 points — going 5 of 6 from the free-throw line in the final 2 minutes — and Luke Loewe added nine of his 11 after halftime for Minnesota (12-10, 3-10 Big Ten).

Minnesota forward Eric Curry (1) takes a shot over Penn State guard Jalen Pickett (22) and forward John Harrar.

Sam Sessoms scored six points in a 98-second span to give Penn State (9-12, 4-9) a 67-65 lead with 3:45 to play, but Loewe answered with a layup 25 seconds later to spark an 11-3 closing run. The Nittany Lions shot just 1 of 5 from the field and committed three of their 13 turnovers during that stretch.

Sessoms led Penn State with 18 points. Seth Lundy shot 6 of 9 from the field, 4 of 5 from 3-point range and finished with 16 points and John Harrar added 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

Penn State has lost three in a row and five of its last six.