A game too close for comfort, but the No. 4 seed Wisconsin Badgers held on to defeat the No. 13 seed Nebraska Cornhuskers in a 66-62 win in one of the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal matchups on Friday afternoon.
Inside the United Center in Chicago, senior forward Khalil Iverson continued his hot touch, tying a team-high with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with two rebounds and three assists. Sophomore forward Nate Reuvers also recorded 14 points, making six of nine from the field that included both three-point attempts, along with grabbing six rebounds and dishing out three assists.
Contributions also came from starting guard Brad Davison and reserve forward Aleem Ford with 11 points each.
Those were needed, as first-team All-Big Ten forward Ethan Happ struggled against the Huskers. The redshirt senior played just 20 minutes, scored just four points, seven rebounds, four assists and committed a team-high seven turnovers.
Wisconsin (23-9) registered 17 turnovers on Friday, tying a season high, and shot 48 percent from the field overall (24 of 50). Greg Gard’s team also made 36.8 percent of its threes in the win.
On the flip side, UW contained Nebraska (18-16) to 38.1 percent shooting overall and just 28.6 percent from deep. That included a second half effort where the Huskers only connected on 12 of 36 attempts (33.3 percent) and five of 18 threes (27.8 percent).
Glynn Watson, Jr. scored a game-high 23 points while James Palmer, Jr. contributed 15 points for Nebraska. Isaiah Roby scored 13 points, pulled down six rebounds and blocked four shots in the loss. The trio made just 19 of 53 shots overall, seven of 24 from deep.
Wisconsin led by as much as 13 with 3:50 remaining in the first half, but Nebraska cut the deficit to five to only be trailing 34-29 at halftime. Iverson led the way with 10 points, while Reuvers recorded eight points, five rebounds and three assists in the first 20 minutes. Happ contributed four points, four rebounds and three assists as well but also turned the ball over three times.
The Badgers shot 56.5 percent in the first half and made three of seven from deep, but the team committed nine turnovers. Watson, Jr. led the way for the Huskers with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, with both Palmer, Jr. and Roby contributing six points each. UW contained Nebraska to 44.4 percent from the field, only 30 percent from three-point range.
Nebraska continued to stick close to Wisconsin in the second half, even taking the lead after a Palmer, Jr. layup with 10:18 remaining in the game to make it 46-45.
However, Reuvers answered two offensive possessions later with a bank shot three to put the Badgers up two at 48-46 with 9:12 left in regulation. With that connection from deep, Wisconsin went on a 10-2 run in a 4:13 stretch that extended its lead back up to seven points. Redshirt sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice (eight points, four assists) connected on his first three of the game with under five minutes remaining that made it 55-48.
Nebraska went on a 7-2 spree of its own to cut the lead to one possession once again with 3:03 remaining. With Johnny Trueblood’s layup, the Huskers made it a 57-55 contest.
Both teams did not score in the next two minutes, but Trice’s second three of the game was a clutch one—pushing the lead to five with 58 seconds left.
Watson, Jr. missed a three of his own on the next possession, and Palmer, Jr. fouled Davison thereafter. Davison, who shot just 2-of-10 overall on Friday afternoon, made both free throws to make it 64-57 with 29 seconds to play.
Davison hit all six of his opportunities from the line against the Huskers.
Palmer, Jr.’s layup with 13 seconds left trimmed the lead to five, but he missed a three with seven seconds remaining after redshirt junior guard Brevin Pritzl missed the first free throw of a one-and-one opportunity.
Trice capped the scoring for Wisconsin with his two free throws, and though Palmer, Jr. hit a three at the buzzer, the Badgers advanced to the semifinals.
Wisconsin will face No. 1 seed Michigan State on Saturday morning in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals at Noon CT.