At times Wisconsin looked efficient on the offensive end, especially when the Badgers jumped out to a 20-7 lead. At other times they simply couldn’t buy a bucket, even missing some point-blank shots near the rim. Wisconsin shot better than 40 percent from the field in the first half (41.9) but only managed to make six field goals on 17 attends in the second half, as the Badgers finished the game shooting 18-for-46 (39.1 percent) from the field. Wisconsin also finished the game 5-for-18 (27.8 percent) from three. As the game went on, the Badgers’ best offense came from the free throw line, as they found themselves plenty of times at the charity stripe and went 24-for-31.
Sam Dekker proved to be the most consistent scorer for Wisconsin, as he tied his career high with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting in 32 minutes of work. Bronson Koenig and Frank Kaminsky each finished the game with 13 points. Koenig finished the game 3-for-7 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free throw line. Nigel Hayes was third on the team in scoring with eight points and all of his points came from the free throw line. This is Hayes third time in his career where he managed to not make a field goal, the last time coming against Michigan State in last year’s Big Ten Tournament semifinals.
Wisconsin was able to dish out nine assists on its 18 made field goals but committed eight turnovers. Koenig led Wisconsin with two turnovers, which tied a season high for him, but Nebraska could only convert Wisconsin’s miscues into six points.
With every starter playing at least 32 minutes, there were not many opportunities for the bench to step in and contribute. Duje Dukan and Vitto Brown were the only two to score for Wisconsin and combined for five points. Dukan was able to hit a three in the second half to put Wisconsin up by 14 points - Dukan’s first made three since the last time Wisconsin played Nebraska.
Despite getting more production out of the bench Tuesday then they did in their previous game against Northwestern, it still does need to be better.
It was two completely different halves for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers struggled to generate any sort of offense in the first, only managing six made field goals, but shot 16-for-34 (47.1 percent) in the second half. Wisconsin really had no answer in the final 20 minutes since the Cornhuskers found ways of scoring inside and hitting shots from the perimeter. Overall Nebraska shot 22-for-62 (35.5 percent) from the field.
In particular Terran Petteway scored 18 of his team-leading 23 points in the second half, including eight straight at one point to cut the Badgers lead down to five. Despite Petteway’s efforts, Nebraska trailed the entire game. Shavon Shields was the only other player for Nebraska to reach double digits with 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting in 38 minutes. Leslee Smith was third with six second-half points, and Tai Webster led Nebraska off the bench with five of Nebraska’s eight bench points.
It was a physical game at times but Wisconsin, like its done all year, limited its fouls to only 12, compared to Nebraska being whistled for 25 fouls. The result was Nebraska going only 7-for-10 from the line and the Badgers not giving them any cheap whistles.
Even though Nebraska wanted to get the ball low to try and draw fouls on UW’s big men, Wisconsin did a good job with its interior defense and forced the Huskers to attempt a healthy amount of 3-pointers. Much like the story of the season, Nebraska couldn’t capitalize, going 4-for-18 (22.2 percent) from three.
Overall: B-It was a game of runs for Wisconsin in the first half, eventually building a 14-point halftime lead and looking like they would run away with it early in the second half when Koenig buried a 3-pointer to put UW up by 17. But Wisconsin went the next seven minutes and 33 seconds without a field goal, as their next five points came from the free throw line. Lucky for the Badgers that Nebraska couldn’t cut into that lead, as the Huskers’ offensive managed only 10 points in the first eight-plus minutes.
Kaminsky’s shots were once again limited (going 4-for-9 from the field), but he collected his ninth double-double – best in the Big Ten – with 12 rebounds and managed to lead Wisconsin in assists for the second straight game (four). He was able to twice find a way to connect with Dekker early in the game off of lob passes that Dekker caught in the air and laid in. Despite teams trying to limit his touches, Kaminsky continues to show he still can impact the game in plenty of other ways.
With the game being a little wild at times, he still managed to come up with a season-Big-Ten-high three blocks. Kaminsky did a good job of consistently finding ways of forcing players up for shots and either got his hand on the attempt or forced the shooter to alter their shot while they were in the air.
One aspect that was disappointing to see was how effective Nebraska was in getting offensive rebounds. Although coming in ranked last in offensive rebounds a game, the Huskers finished with 12 offensive boards and turned into 15 second-chance points. Shield in particular was a pain for Wisconsin, as he was able to collect three offensive rebounds in the game to help Nebraska edge out Wisconsin, 38-36, on the glass.
Brown only saw two minutes in the game off the bench but he was able to put two nice plays back to back for Wisconsin in the first half. The first play was on offense when he created space between himself and the defender to bury his only stop attempt from the corner of the free throw line. He followed up his shot by playing good defense on Petteway, able to use his length to his advantage off a switch to alter a shot. It was good to see Brown put two impressive plays together as he continues to build his confidence in Big Ten play.
Game MVP: Sam Dekker. Coming out of the gates strong, Dekker scored six of UW’s first 11 points and at times looked to drive the ball when his team was in search of a made field goal. Dekker was really impressive from the beginning, as his six first-half field goals equaled the Huskers’ made first goals in the first half.
It was Dekker’s eighth straight game in double digits, and he was really the only player for Wisconsin who beat Nebraska around the basket or on the perimeter. In addition to making multiple 3-pointers, Dekker finished the game with eight rebounds, which tied with Josh Gasser for second behind Kaminsky, and recorded one of Wisconsin’s three steals. With Nebraska doing a good job of defending Kaminsky in the low post, Dekker was able to pick up the scoring for his teammate. As the game went on Nebraska didn’t have an answer for Dekker on defense.