The Badgers (4-5, 1-1 Big Ten) barely did so against one of the conference's young, promising upstarts, holding off Penn State inside the Bryce Jordan Center for a 64-63 win.
Khalil Iverson scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half, Nate Reuvers added 11 points and Ethan Happ grabbed 10 rebounds to help the Badgers snap a two-game skid.
Mike Watkins notched a career-best 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Penn State. Tony Carr finished with 16 points and Shep Garner added 13 for the Nittany Lions, who nearly rebounded from a poor-shooting first half and sloppy start to the second.
The Nittany Lions led for 9:23 of the first 20 minutes but shot just 35 percent from the floor on 9-of-26 shooting. Failing to carry momentum from their conference opener at Iowa where they made 12 of 23 3-pointers, the Nittany Lions hit just 1 of 6 3s over the first 20 minutes against Wisconsin.
They had little success trying for high percentage and mid-range shots, too. Penn State missed six first-half layups and ended the first half on an 0-for-6 skid over the final 2:43. Meanwhile, the Badgers used a 6-0 run with two late layups from Iverson to take a 31-25 halftime lead.
Penn State's cold streak extended to the second half with just one make in its first seven shots.
But Garner got Penn State's offense going. With the Badgers leading by 17 with 9:40 to play, Garner hit two straight jumpers that sparked a 21-9 run to cut the lead to 60-57 with 1:53 to play.
Penn State's veteran guard made a pair of free throws with under a minute left to make it a one-point game. But D'Mitrik Trace traded free throws with Garner and Carr late, going 4-for-4 from the line to keep the game out of reach.
The Nittany Lions had a chance when Carr put up what would've been a game-winning 3-pointer with two seconds to play, but the ball bounced off the rim and the Badgers held on.
Penn State made just 20 of 56 field goals on the night and the Badgers benefited from 25 points off the bench to one for the Nittany Lions.