On this cold and blustery morn here in Madison with the temperature currently holding at a balmy -22 degrees, the Wisconsin Badgers will be at least be able to enjoy a day off from school on Wednesday after a 62-51 victory over Nebraska a night prior.
Wisconsin (15-6, 7-3 Big Ten) pushed out to an early first half lead, squandered that away, then fought back and overall constricted Nebraska’s offense to only 28.3 percent shooting for the game to pull off the win.
Another impressive defensive performance, Brad Davison taking over the game in a late stretch, plus significant contributions from some role players all led to the Badgers extending their winning streak to four.
Here are a few, quick takeaways before turning attention back to Maryland for a Friday night tilt at the Kohl Center.
Defense wins the day
Wisconsin’s play on this end of the court has been even more impressive lately, and KenPom now ranks UW as fifth in adjusted defensive efficiency. Against Northwestern on Jan. 26, the Badgers allowed the Wildcats to make just 29.6 percent of its attempts—including just 23.3 percent (seven of 30) in the second half of that win just a few days ago.
In a mirror image to the final 20 minutes of the win over Northwestern, Wisconsin held Nebraska to the same 23.3 percent shooting (seven of 30 attempts, again) in the first half. The Huskers could only muster four three-pointers in the contest on 20 attempts (20 percent) on Tuesday night.
The trio of Isaiah Roby, James Palmer Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr. combined to make only 12 of 42 shots, four of 14 from three-point range. Palmer only made one three-pointer in seven attempts.
Maybe the only area that causes a hint of concern is the offensive rebounds. Nebraska grabbed 18, with Roby and Tanner Borchardt having five each in allowing Tim Miles’ squad to have more opportunities. To be fair though, Wisconsin’s defense only allowed seven second-chance points.
Brad Davison can takeover offensively when needed
The sophomore guard led the team with 13 points, but 10 came during a stretch between the 8:08 and 4:33 mark of the second half. Actually, no one else scored during that stretch for the Badgers, which included a 7-0 personal run against the Huskers.
He drew a fifth foul on Borchardt with just over six minutes remaining in the game, which not only extended the Badgers’ lead to seven but also took out a starter who replaced the injured Isaac Copeland Jr.
Dating back to the Western Kentucky loss, Davison has now scored in double figures in seven of the last nine contests.
Role players step up at opportune times
Two Badgers come to mind immediately from Tuesday night’s game in redshirt junior guard Brevin Pritzl (eight points, three rebounds) and senior forward Charles Thomas (five points, three rebounds). Both contributors made key plays when Wisconsin needed a boost in critical times.
With Nebraska pulling within four points with 1:20 left in the first half after a Palmer Jr. free throw, Pritzl connected on a three-pointer with 58 seconds remaining. That gave UW some more breathing room heading into halftime in a difficult road environment.
Fast forward to the second half, and Nebraska pounced back. A couple of times, the Huskers took the lead but the Badgers fought back to tie. D’Mitrik Trice hit a three to make 35-35, but here is where Thomas, who was giving Ethan Happ a breather, stood out.
Nebraska would take the lead twice more at the 14:29 and 12:03 marks due to respective baskets from Palmer Jr. and Thomas Allen, but Thomas scored five points to counter that—including a key three-pointer—to tie the game back up at 37-37 and then 40-40.
After Thomas drilled the trey with 11:31 remaining, Pritzl drained his second three-pointer of the game on Wisconsin’s next offensive possession to give the Badgers a lead it would never relinquish.
Pritzl played 25 minutes, Thomas just six, but their plays helped Wisconsin come out of “The Vault” with another solid win.
"Charlie gave us a lift when we needed it. The place started getting loud and he was our answer"— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) January 30, 2019
Coach Gard on @Tr33top_T4LL
5 points, 3 rebounds and 1 block in 6 minutes tonight for Charlie pic.twitter.com/Izf7KcYOnB
Wisconsin protected the ball
Not many mistakes turnover-wise for Greg Gard’s bunch. The Badgers committed just seven on Tuesday night, which always bodes well on the road.