It was the second consecutive season that the Badgers blew a double-digit lead against Nebraska on the road and their loss on Thursday was an epic blow to a team that had been one of the hottest in the country since November.
The Badgers had several opportunities to close out the game, but let Nebraska back in during the second half and couldn’t finish it off in overtime, where the Huskers’ momentum carried over in their favor.
Here are three quick takeaways from the Badgers’ 80-72 loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The Badgers, who have produced one of the more efficient offenses in the nation this season, reverted back to their old ways with a number of scoring droughts in the second half, where they scored just 24 points before overtime.
After a strong start led to a 47-29 lead at the 17:04 mark of the second half, the Badgers went on a four-minute scoring drought where Nebraska cut the lead to 10 points.
Then, after an A.J. Storr three at the 12:58 mark, the Badgers went scoreless for another two minutes, where Nebraska climbed back to cut the lead to 50-49.
Once again, after a bucket from Chucky Hepburn at the 10:30 mark, Wisconsin had a 4.5 minute scoring drought until 6:00, although good defense kept the Badgers tied at 52 a piece.
Wisconsin was able to find some offensive rhythm as Max Klesmit went on an 11-0 run on his own before Tyler Wahl got an and-1 opportunity to increase the lead to 65-59 at the 3:33 mark.
With the game on the line, however, Wisconsin didn’t score for the next 3:13, which allowed Nebraska to get their first lead of the game at 67-65.
Once overtime hit, the Badgers struggled initially but cut the deficit to 74-72 at the 2:03 mark with a Tyler Wahl free throw.
From that point on? Nothing. Wisconsin ended the goal going scoreless over the last two weeks, dropping a crucial Big Ten game that now has them in jeopardy of losing the top spot in the conference when they face the Purdue Boilermakers.
After struggling to score and get stops in the first half, Nebraska looked to their bench to keep them active and it worked, as C.J. Wilcher went off for 22 points, hitting 70 percent of his shots, including 5/7 from three.
Wilcher led the team in scoring, while forward Juwan Gary, who played for the first time in weeks, had nine points and four rebounds in 33 minutes.
Head coach Fred Hoiberg made the executive decision to bench starting guards Jamar Lawrence and Keisei Tominaga in favor of Wilcher and Gary, while backup guard Sam Hoiberg had 22 minutes of action as well.
All three of the team’s bench players were at least +14 from the field, proving to be the difference for Nebraska.
The Badgers relied heavily on their starters, which led to only 10 bench points, although John Blackwell, Carter Gilmore, and Nolan Winter all had negative plus-minuses.
Nebraska’s bench was the key in their second-half turnaround, and ultimately led to a victory.
Known as one of the more effective offenses in the country, the Badgers uncharacteristically struggled with turnovers on Thursday, giving away the ball 16 times in the loss.
10 of those came in the second half where Wisconsin had their major collapse, with A.J. Storr, Steven Crowl, Max Klesmit, and Chucky Hepburn each committing two of their own.
In the second half, even when it seemed the Badgers had something going for them defensively, they struggled on the offensive side, being reckless with the ball.
15 total turnovers, combined with 31.4 percent from the field in the second half, were the biggest issues for the Badgers offensively, as they allowed Nebraska to creep back into the game.
On the other hand, Nebraska turned it over just five times in the second half, while scoring 13 points off Wisconsin’s second-half turnovers in the win.