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Wisconsin men’s basketball: Nebraska recap

Badgers surge in the second half to take down Nebraska. Wisconsin got off to a slow start, but were able to take down the Huskers, 67-53.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing off non-conference play last week, the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team (7-1 overall, 1-0 B1G) shifted their attention to Big Ten play Tuesday night for a home game with Nebraska.

The Cornhuskers, led by head coach Fred Hoiberg, came to Madison hoping for the upset, but the Badgers proved to be too much. Wisconsin was able to overcome some early struggles to win by double-digits.

In the first couple minutes of action, Wisconsin was unable to keep their hot shooting from the game prior going, missing their first six shots from the field. Nebraska didn’t do much better however, as the Cornhuskers only held a 2-0 lead at the first media timeout.

After Jonathan Davis broke the scoring struggle for Wisconsin with a three-point make, another lengthy scoring drought ensued for the Badgers, as Nebraska maintained a 7-3 advantage into the second media timeout.

The Nebraska lead ballooned to nine with 6:40 left in the first half, but the Badgers were finally able to find some semblance of offense over the next three minutes to cut the deficit to only two points at the 3:24 mark.

The scoring surge would roll on for Wisconsin, as the Badgers snagged a one-point lead at the break thanks to a 14-3 run over the final 4:21 of the first half.

It was Wisconsin who would build on their lead in the first three minutes of the second half, pushing the edge to six with 16:40 left to play as Nate Reuvers, D’Mitrik Trice and Aleem Ford all scored coming out of the break.

Nebraska wouldn’t back down, as the Cornhuskers went on a 7-0 run to retake the lead at the following media timeout. During the stretch Wisconsin became far too reliant on jump shots, with some poor shot selection, resulting in a three minute scoring drought.

In a matter of minutes the momentum swung quickly back to the Badgers, who put together a 16-0 run of their own to go up 48-33 with 9:09 to play.

From that moment on, Wisconsin would never look back. The Badgers kept the Cornhuskers at arms-length, and would take care of business for a 67 to 53 win.

Notable stat lines:

  • Micah Potter —> 10 points (3-of-7 shooting), 11 rebounds, two assist
  • Aleem Ford —> 13 points (4-of- 9 shooting), eight rebounds
  • Brad Davison —> 15 points (5-of-11 shooting), three rebounds, seven assists
  • Dalano Banton —> 15 points (5-of-12 shooting), eight rebounds, four assists

Three things that stood out

No. 1: Length issues

Nebraska started an extremely long starting lineup, with the two starting guards standing 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-6 respectively. That length resulted in some troubles in the first 10 minutes of the game. Wisconsin settled for three-point shots on half of their first 14 attempts, and were blocked on four of the other seven shots attempts. Add in an uncharacteristic six turnovers in those opening possessions, and things were not going well for the Badgers early.

The Badgers initial issues with adjusting to Nebraska’s aggressiveness and length were notable, and were a big reason for the slow start for Wisconsin. Shooting 1-of-16 to start out the game, Wisconsin was eventually able to settle into a rhythm, but the poor showing in the opening moments of the game will need to change with Michigan State on deck.

No. 2: Jonathan Davis

One player that did not have hard a time with Nebraska was freshman Jonathan Davis. The La Crosse product put his full game on display against the Cornhuskers, leading the team with seven points and five rebounds in the first half on 75% shooting. The energy he brought while on the court seemed to really fuel the team, and ignite the rally after a really slow start. Davis was active on both ends of the court, with two offensive rebounds and a pretty drive to the hoop on offense in the first half, and some great defense against a much taller Dalano Banton on the other end of the court.

While Davis was not nearly as effective in the latter stages of the game, his presence in the first half was a big reason why the Badgers were able to stay in the game as his teammates struggled from the field.

In the first eight games of his young career Davis has now scored at least six points in all of the games except one, and he has demonstrated a strong ability to create his own shot and get to the rim. On a senior laden team that can get hot, having a scoring threat from the bench that can generate points off the dribble should pay dividends down the road.

No. 3: Second half-swing

After a quick neck crack at half, Wisconsin was able to get back on track over the last 20 minutes. Against Loyola Chicago and Louisville, the Badgers were exceptionally efficient on offense, and connected well from three. While the first half against Nebraska was not great, the second half was reminiscent of those two previous performances.

Wisconsin seems to be clicking on offense, and has remedied some of the rebounding and defensive miscues that popped up against Marquette. Now 1-0 in Big Ten play, the competition level will only continue to improve.

One thing to monitor moving forward will be the play of Nate Reuvers. The leading scorer from a year ago, he scored in double figures the first time since the Marquette game. Micah Potter and Brad Davison did done a great job of picking up the slack in the previous three games, but Reuvers is still a key cog for the Badgers, and will need to be more involved on offense for this team to live up to their highest potential.

Up next: The Badgers will be back on the hardwood on Christmas day for a B1G showdown with No. 12 Michigan State (6-1 overall, 0-1 B1G). Tip time is set for 11:30 a.m. CST, and the game can be seen on FOX.