The Badgers made it known that they weren’t going to overlook Nebraska’s 4-7 conference record due to their tough home court advantage. Nebraska took Wisconsin to the brink, but Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year Nigel Hayes willed the Badgers to a win in overtime, 70-69. The win, although pretty ugly, is the Badgers eighth straight victory.
Hayes hit a three with 19 seconds left in overtime to put the Badgers up 70-69, which would end up being the final score. Hayes finished with 20 points on 6/9 shooting from the field and 7/11 from the free throw line. He missed most of the first half after getting called for two fouls within four minutes of the game starting. He scored the Badgers first two points of the game on free throws, but those freebies would be his only two points of the first half. Hayes scored 15 points in the second half and was the source of most of Wisconsin’s offense on another rough shooting night. At one point, he scored nine straight points for the Badgers during the half, including a couple of monster dunks.
The game was sent into overtime by Michael Jacobson who drilled a tough, clutch three with .3 seconds left, knotting the game up at 58 a piece. Nebraska trailed for most of the game, but the Cornhuskers were able to put a strong final 10 minutes together and rally back. Tai Webster scored 19 points for the Huskers and Glynn Watson Jr. chipped in 15.
Zak Showalter scored 15 points, with all of his made field goals being threes. His fourth and final three came at the beginning of overtime. Showalter was fouled in the process, as he completed the four-point play with the ensuing free throw.
Ethan Happ didn’t have a stellar game on the offensive end but the sophomore center made a few key defensive plays down the stretch. Happ blocked a shot on Nebraska’s final possession at the end of the game. He was able to corral the ball after it bounced around and called a timeout as he was falling off balance nearly out of bounds. Something that may be of note for the future, Happ sat at the end of regulation when the Badgers had possession, with the reason being his poor free throw shooting.
Bronson Koenig appeared to suffer a lower-body injury that made him slightly limp for most of the second half and overtime. Koenig struggled on Thursday night going just 4/13 from the field, but it’s important for the Badgers that they were able to close it out without any clutch time help from Koenig.
Brevin Pritzl played his career high in minutes, 23, and made many key plays. Although known for his outside shooting, Pritzl made a few plays, such as a charge and a couple of rebounds. Pritzl was afforded the extra time due to all the fouls being called during the first half, and despite going 1/6, still made the most of his time.
In a rare event, the Badgers were out-rebounded by Nebraska 50 to 37. The Badgers came into the game fifth in the nation in rebounding margin at +9.3 rebounds per game. Nebraska turned the ball over 22 times, but the Badgers were only able to muster up 15 points.
The most telling stat of the Badgers struggling offense may be that the team only had nine assists. Vitto Brown led the team in assists with three, and Brown scored all seven of his points in the first when the team badly needed help in Hayes’s absence.
The game wasn’t ever pretty for the Badgers, and neither has the entire winning streak. Although you may say the Badgers are not playing their best ball, which they aren’t, they are still finding ways to win which is important.
Next, Wisconsin is back at home and will face Northwestern on Sunday at 5:30pm.