OMAHA, Neb. – The first road test of the season was more than Wisconsin’s veteran lineup bargained for.
Behind a raucous sold-out crowd, No.22 Creighton used a 19-4 second-half run to sink No.9 Wisconsin, 79-67, at the Century Link Center Tuesday.
Senior Bronson Koenig scored 21 points to lead the Badgers (1-1), who grinded out a 41.3 percentage despite going 11-for-39 from 3-point range.
Wisconsin out rebounded Creighton, 42-27, but were outscored 32-20 in the paint and only attempted five free throws, all coming in the final 5:18 of the game.
Down three to begin the second half, Wisconsin went 6 of 6 out of the locker room, a balance between low-post play, mid-range jumpers and a handful of 3-pointers. Neither team led by more than six for the first 13 minutes of the second half until Creighton (2-0) took off.
After Berlin, Wis., native Toby Hegner hit a 3-pointer, Khyri Thomas (team-high 18 points) delivered a pair of 3-point plays, one the old-fashioned way another hit that was a back breaker, giving the Bluejays an 11-point lead. It was the largest of the game and it came with 6:37 remaining.
UW never got closer than five the rest of the way, as four Bluejays reached double figures.
Wisconsin was out of sorts early, committing three turnovers on its first three possessions, and quickly digging an 8-0 hole behind the Bluejays hitting their first three shots.
The Badgers shot only 33 percent in the first half, didn’t score for the final 4:42 of the half, missed their last 11 3-point attempts and committed eight turnovers, but only trailed 33-30 at the break because the Badgers made eight 3-pointers.
That perimeter shooting helped Wisconsin mostly wipe away the fact Creighton shot 47 percent from the field and the fact that UW only attempted eight 2-point jump shots.
There was never a large enough course correction, however, as UW missed 22 of its final 25 3-pointers.
Having not lost to a Big Ten team at home since 1968, Creighton improved to 53-0 all-time in regular-season home games that take place on or before Nov. 26th.
Wisconsin returns home for a match-up with Chicago State (1-0) Thursday night.
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