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Wisconsin men’s basketball: UW blows second half lead, falls to Nebraska on Senior Day

The Badgers also lost Johnny Davis to an injury early in the second half. Pretty much the worst possible day for the Badgers.

Nebraska v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

MADISON — The No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers men's hoops (24-6 overall, 15-5 Big Ten) hosted the Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-21, 4-16 Big Ten) on Sunday afternoon in their regular season finale. With a win, the Badgers would win the Big Ten championship outright and be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big Ten tournament. Combine that with Senior Day and you had a recipe for a great day.

The first half started about as poorly as anyone could’ve imagined it. The Badgers turned the ball over four times on their first six possessions and dug themselves into a hole from the jump.

To make matters worse, Johnny Davis picked up his second foul with just under 11 minutes to play and was glued to the bench for the remainder of the half. When Davis went out, the Badgers trailed by 19-13. Nebraska was able to extend that lead to as many as 12. As they’ve done all year, the Badgers found ways to crawl back into the game, trailing 40-36 at the break.

Two and a half minutes into the second half, Johnny Davis went down. The All-American was fouled by Trey McGowens on a fast break and fell awkwardly and hard. McGowens was assessed two fouls, one for the trip that led to Davis’ fall and a flagrant penalty-2 (resulting in an ejection) for an elbow to Davis’ face. After being down and in pain for some time, Davis got up on his own and gingerly walked immediately to the locker room holding his knee. He did not return.

Following Davis’ exit, the Badgers found their groove in large part thanks to the play of the bench. Chris Vogt played by far his best game of the year, totaling 13 points, the first time he has reached double figures as a Badger. In his final game in the Kohl Center, Brad Davison put the team on his back when they needed it most, leading the Badger surge in the second half. He finished with a team high 20 points.

The Badgers went ice cold from the field with just under six minutes to play. Over that period, Nebraska went on a 10-0 run to take a 72-71 lead with 1:50 remaining. Wisconsin did not score from the 5:48 mark until there were 19.8 seconds left when Chucky Hepburn went to the line after being fouled taking a three-pointer. With a chance to tie the game at the line, Hepburn missed the first before making the next two to cut the Nebraska lead to one.

Following a missed Nebraska free throw, Gard elected not to use his final timeout and despite a great look, Hepburn missed a three pointer that would’ve given the Badgers the win. After being up double digits in the second half, the Badgers were ultimately unable to get it done without their star, falling 74-73 to a now 10-21 Nebraska team.

If Illinois beats Iowa later on Sunday night, then they will share the Big Ten title with the Badgers and earn the No. 1 seed. If the Hawkeyes win, things stay as they stand currently with the Badgers the sole Big Ten champs and the top-seed in the conference tournament.

Notable stat lines:

  • Brad Davison —> 20 points (5-of-15 from the floor), four rebounds, three assists
  • Tyler Wahl —> 13 points (4-of-10 from the floor), seven rebounds, five steals
  • Chris Vogt —> 13 points (5-of-6 from the floor), three rebounds, two blocks
  • Alonzo Verge, Jr. (Nebraska) —> 26 points (10-of-16 from the floor), six assists, five rebounds

Up next: The Badgers await their seeding and then we’ll know what time on Friday they’ll be playing in the Big Ten Tournament.