Kicked Out of the Party

Building a seven-point lead early in the second half, No.9 Wisconsin was weathering the storm in a raucous arena against a team playing for its NCAA tournament lives. But when the shots stopped dropping, the Badgers were powerless to stop it, falling 77-68 to Nebraska Sunday night.

One of the many popular traits of Nebraska coach Tim Miles is his embracing of social media, which is evident by his traditional halftime tweet. His message on Sunday night was simple with his team trailing 35-33 in what was dubbed the biggest home game in a decade: "We have to get defensive stops and get to their shooters. We gotta find a way to win!"

It was retweeted 350+ times and favored by over 340, but the people that responded the best to his message were his players playing for their NCAA tournament lives.

Allowing No.9 Wisconsin to hover around 50 percent heading into the second half, Nebraska turned up the defensive intensity to see UW miss 14 of its final 19 shots, a big key in helping Nebraska end the Badgers' eight-game winning streak with a 77-68 victory at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway each scored 26 points for Nebraska (19-11, 11-7), which won for the 10th time in 12 games to clinch fourth place in the Big Ten for their highest conference finish since 1997-98. Nebraska also registered its first win over Wisconsin (25-6, 12-6 Big Ten) since joining the Big Ten before the 2011-12 season.

UW put four players in double figures, led by Frank Kaminsky's 14 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and three assists, but the Badgers shot 34.4 percent in the second half after shooting 54.2 percent in the first half, putting a major dent in UW's hope for a No.1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Josh Gasser had 11 points and nine rebounds while Nigel Hayes scored 12, but went 2-for-7 from the line.

UW finished the regular season tied for second place in the Big Ten with Michigan State, three games behind champion Michigan, but the Badgers get the number two seed in the conference tournament based on UW's 60-58 victory in Madison Feb.9.

"We're the number two seed in the Big Ten tournament, that's all I know," said UW coach Bo Ryan, who was denied his first opportunity to reach 700 wins but downplayed the talk of a top seed in the NCAA tournament.

UW will play Minnesota or Penn State Friday at 5:30 p.m., but the only thing on their minds was UW's uncharacteristic performance down the stretch.

The Badgers led by as many as seven points in the second half and retook the lead with 12:33 remaining following a Kaminsky's 3-pointer. From that point the three themes of the night all reared their head.

For starters the offense vanished, as Wisconsin went 0-for-6 from the field on a 13-4 Nebraska run that UW never recovered from. Three of those misses on that stretch came from Sam Dekker, who finished 3-for-9 shooting, scored only six points (his third straight game in single digits after having only four such games previously) and spent half of the second half on the bench despite one personal foul.

"You know, I never pick apart a player in a press conference," said Ryan of Dekker. "He's got things to work on like a lot of our other guys."

The Badgers entered the regular season finale ranking second in the conference in free throw percentage, shooting 75.3 percent on the season, but shot 52.2 percent (11-for-21) Sunday, their lowest since going 1-for-4 against Jan.14. On the decisive run, UW finished 2-for-7, including missing the front end of a bonus situation.

"They regrouped and shut down some things and they hit some shots," said Ryan, as UW also committed 11 turnovers that turned into 17 Nebraska points. "Playing from behind we had a couple chances there, biting into their lead and missed a few free throws."

While Miles was getting prepared to tweet, senior role bench player Zach Bohannon imitated Miles with his tweet: "We must stop dribble penetration in the second half if we want to win." UW didn't quite have the same response as Nebraska did.

Shields scored all 20 of his points inside the perimeter and six from the free throw line while Pettway scored 12 from two-point range and 11 from the free throw line. Nebraska shot better than 50 percent in each half and 52.6 percent for the game.

"You can simulate what some guys do in practice, but we had a couple guys that … we didn't shut some things down on the angles," said Ryan, referring to Shields and to no UW player in particular. "Once it gets started, I guy feels he can do anything. It's like some of our guys. You let them get started and they can make some really good things happen."

Nebraska scored on its first four possessions, responding favorable to the 15,998 in attendance, most of which eventually stormed the court at the final buzzer.

But while forced to burn its first timeout after a 10-3 Cornhuskers run, Wisconsin didn't seem rattled in another hostile road environments. UW started 6-for-7 at Michigan, started 12-for 15 at Iowa and started 6-for-9 Sunday and kept the baskets coming, shooting 54.2 percent in the first half to carve out a 35-33 halftime lead.

Problem was Nebraska shot 53.6 percent and just kept scoring, unlike the Badgers, who have four days to regroup for either Penn State or Minnesota in Indianapolis.

"I wish we would have played better," said Gasser, "but we move on and now is the time we live for."

Badger Nation Top Stories