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Game notes: No. 21 Wisconsin 61, Nebraska 48

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After a slow start, the Badgers defense put the clamps on the Huskers but there are still concerns about UW’s offense.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Nebraska Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday night there was a basketball game. It was not a good basketball game, but the No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team did win the game. UW (15-6 overall, 9-5 Big Ten) beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-11 overall, 0-8 Big Ten) 61-48 in Lincoln, Neb. and now start a closing stretch of five games against ranked opponents out of their last six.

Here are some things we noticed while watching the game and poring over the box score late last night and early this morning.

  • Look, wins are good. We all agree on that. But I think there is something else we can agree on and that’s that not all wins are created equal. This was not a win that inspired a lot of confidence heading into the toughest stretch of the schedule. HOWEVAH, it was a road win in the Big Ten against a desperate team so, yeah...hooray?
  • The Badgers defense over the first 10 minutes of the game was atrocious and, coincidentally, Nebraska was winning 22-14 and on a 12-0 run. When the Badgers have been down after the “first quarter” of the game they have lost more often than not, but one of the previous times they had come back was against the Huskers earlier this year. The rematch was more of the same as the Badgers put the clamps on the Huskers and only allowed them to score 28 points in the last 75% of the game.
  • Greg Gard made good defensive adjustments and stopped letting Nebraska get backdoor on them for easy layups. The Huskers ended up averaging only 0.72 points per possession, the second lowest PPP allowed by UW this season.
  • On the other side of the ball, Wisconsin still has some major issues. The Badgers only averaged 0.91 PPP (they have had below a 1.0 PPP in five of their past six games) and shot extremely poorly. Wisconsin shot 32.3% from the field and 28.1% from three. They also shot 70.6% from the free throw line, which was also below their season average.
  • The amount of three pointers attempted on Wednesday night was astronomical. A season-high 32 attempts went up and only nine found the bottom of the net. While, yet again, there were a number of misses that were good, open shots (a wide-open Trevor Anderson on the wing comes to mind) but they were just clanked. It has gotten to the point where, as I believe a few commenters have noted, that the good three point shooting nights are the anomaly and not to be expected.
  • Let’s take a look at some of the individual three point performances:

D’Mitrik Trice: 2-for-7
Brad Davison: 3-for-6 (hey, alright!)
Aleem Ford: 1-for-5
Nate Reuvers: 0-for-3
Trevor Anderson: 2-for-3 (nice!)
Micah Potter: didn’t attempt a three

Then we have to look at the two players who have shot well, on occasion this year, but wouldn’t be considered “three point shooters”:

Tyler Wahl: 0-for-5
Jonathan Davis: 1-for-3

Unless there are MULTIPLE players that have fouled out there is no reason, on any Earth, for Wahl to be shooting five three-pointers in one game. His career high in three point attempts before Wednesday was three and, honestly, that’s still probably one too many for him. Wahl has certainly improved as a shooter from his freshman year and, as a fan of Ben Simmons, I appreciate his willingness to actually shoot from deep even though it isn’t necessarily in his wheelhouse...there has to be a middle-ground for him where he works on developing his shot in actual game action while not actively hurting the team with poor shot choices.

  • And now it’s time to turn to shots taken much closer to the rim! Somehow, these were also bad!! The Badgers shot 8-of-15 at the rim, and even went only 1-of-2 on dunks, against Nebraska, consistently missing bunnies and not finishing strong. This has been a problem since Ethan Happ was a sophomore, tbqh, and it has not improved even a little bit. The biggest, or maybe tallest, offender is Nate Reuvers. At 6-foot-11, he was the tallest player on the floor for the entire game (except when 7-foot Joe Hedstrom played 32 seconds at the end) and went 2-for-5 at the rim! One of his makes was on a tip-in of a previously missed layup.
  • The mid-range effort of the Badgers was abysmal. They shot 3-of-15 from there with Trice going 1-of-7 and Ford going 1-of-4. I’d say step back for a three or take it to the rack but...well...
  • Now let’s get into some good stuff! Anderson was great again off the bench, scoring eight points (3-of-4 shooting), grabbing two rebounds and playing solid defense. Jonathan Davis was also good off the bench, leading the team with 10 points and notching three stocks (steals+blocks). He is going to be a monster with blocks coming from the help-side, btw.
  • Brad Davison was excellent on defense (had three steals, but also took a couple of charges and pestered Nebraska’s ball-handlers into mistakes) while also making 50% of his three pointers, for nine points, and adding three rebounds and three assists.
  • Trice didn’t shoot well, but was a menace on the glass, pulling down a team-high eight rebounds and dishing out three assists with zero turnovers in 38 minutes played.
  • Speaking of turnovers, the Badgers only turned it over eight times compared to Nebraska’s mind-numbing 17 (!!). That’s great on both sides of the ball!
  • Nebraska outscored Wisconsin in the paint 24-22.