Nebraska made 17 more free throws than the Badgers on 17 more attempts, handing the Badgers their second straight loss, 63-59. Wisconsin falls to 9-9 and 2-3 in the Big Ten season. Nebraska was able to win the game despite only hitting one field goal in the final seven minutes, and only shot two-of-fourteen from beyond the arch.
Every time the Badgers seemed dead to rights they fought back within reaching distance but could never quite overcome the Huskers.
James Palmer Jr. led Nebraska in scoring with 18 points. Palmer Jr. has scored in double-figures in every game since November 19. Ethan Happ had 19 points and 11 rebounds but went just 1-6 at the free throw line.
Aleem Ford came off the bench on Tuesday night with Brevin Pritzl and Nate Reuvers starting together for the first time. Typically, Happ and Reuvers would substitute for each other and play minimally together. Happ and Reuvers struggled to play together early on, with the two turning over two interior passes in the opening minutes. A pair of back-to-back threes from Brad Davison and Ford kept Wisconsin in it early on after Nebraska’s Isaac Copeland got going early with six quick points.
Wisconsin, who has been susceptible to droughts throughout the season, went scoreless for five minutes as Nebraska went on an 8-0 run, leading 24-14. Davison ended the run with his second three of the half.
After the Davison’s three, the Badgers went on a mini-run themselves, shortening their ten point deficit to just four points at the half. Iverson had a steal immediately after a Pritzl turnover and a nice lay-in, which was followed by a Happ dunk. Davison took two charges during the stretch helping the Badgers steal a couple of possessions.
Nebraska scored 15 of the first 21 points scored in the second half, again pushing the Badgers away. Jordy Tshimanga hustled on the offensive glass creating extra possessions for the Huskers and additionally finished off a second chance bucket himself. Wisconsin turned the ball over four times in seven possessions.
The Badgers answered again, going on a 10-2 run with all the points coming in the paint. Pritzl had three nice finishes, including a tip-back off of an offensive rebound. Happ had a nifty finish around the rim, and Reuvers had a hook shot, getting the Badgers back within five, 43-38.
The next possession down, Anton Gill, a 48 percent three-point shooter (good enough for fifth in the Big Ten) missed a three. The ball came right off the rim to Isaiah Roby who was laying on the ground. Roby promptly passed it right back to Gill, still wide open, who would hit the second three, ending the Badgers run.
Ethan Happ had a stretch of dominance, as he scored three straight buckets and hit a free throw, single-handedly getting the Badgers back within four with under five minutes left. Wisconsin went scoreless for over two minutes following Happ’s personal 7-0 run, as Nebraska stretched their lead back to nine.
But Happ would again make the game close, hitting back-to-back field goals, cutting the score to 56-51 with 48 seconds left, giving the Badgers one last gasp.
Nebraska would hit their free throws, however, icing the game for the Huskers. The Badgers got themselves in foul trouble and again suffered from an inconsistent offense, allowing Nebraska to come away victorious in an ugly game.
The loss puts the Badgers at a serious disadvantage, if they weren’t already there, at making the NCAA Tournament. The Badgers would essentially have to win every game the rest of the season to have a chance.
Up next, the Badgers have a week off before playing at #5 Purdue on January 9th.