University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (10-13, 3-7 Big Ten) fell to Nebraska (17-8, 8-4 Big Ten) 74-63 Monday night at the Kohl Center for their third consecutive loss in conference play.
Throughout the game, Wisconsin went on hot and cold streaks that allowed the Cornhuskers to come back from significant leads. Due to the defensive adjustments that Nebraska made, Wisconsin had difficulty scoring during the final 10 minutes of the contest.
Early in the game, Wisconsin had success both shooting outside and driving the lane with Ethan Happ. Eighteen of Happ’s 25 points came within the first half of a game where he even made his first career three-point shot.
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In the post-game press conference, a reporter asked Nebraska Coach Tim Miles what adjustments he made to contain the Badger offense. He seemed to think using a zone defense to contain the Badgers as opposed to man coverage is what marked the turnaround.
Nebraska’s man defense was originally beneficial to the Badgers as the Cornhuskers chose between doubling Happ or covering the perimeter, which resulted in high efficiency for the Wisconsin offense.
Until the Nebraska comeback, Wisconsin was seemingly hitting on all cylinders on offense shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep. But in the final 9:59, when the Badgers gave up their game-high 11-point lead, the team went 2-13 from the field and 0-3 from deep.
This stagnation on the offensive end combined with shooting just 10-19 at the free throw line killed any chance for Wisconsin to keep up their scoring production. Also, the Badgers committed four turnovers during these last 10 minutes, which allowed Nebraska’s offense great looks to score. As a team, the Cornhuskers gained 44 points over the entirety of the half compared to the 30 they had in the first period.
James Palmer Jr. dominated offensively and defensively for Nebraska, scoring 28 points with eight boards in a near double-double for the guard.
Wisconsin being under .500 is unusual at this point in the season as it did not happen since 2002. The Badgers will look to get back on track this Thursday night at home versus Northwestern.