The No. 4 University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (23-9, 14-6 Big Ten) pulled off a win against No. 13 Nebraska Cornhuskers (18-16, 6-14) in the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals Friday afternoon. The Badgers’ game was inconsistent, with a pristine first half followed by a series of struggles after halftime.
Wisconsin shot 13-for-23 as a team in the first half, led by senior Khalil Iverson and sophomore Nate Reuvers, who combined for 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting. The Huskers and Badgers combined for three different 8–0 runs in the first half, including back-to-back runs by each team to close out the half. After the Badgers led by as much as 13, the Huskers closed the gap down to five, trailing 34–29 at the half.
With Wisconsin’s somewhat inconsistent season, it was no surprise they came out of the break looking flat after dominating much of the first half. Wisconsin showed little resistance to the Huskers’ senior guard, Glynn Watson. Watson scored a game-high 10 points in the second-half, including two clutch threes that kept Nebraska in the game.
Despite Nebraska using only six players and coming off of two games in two days, the Huskers looked energized and ready to play after struggling for much of the first half. The Nebraska fans, who had already seen their team earn two wins in the previous two days — including an upset against fifth-seeded Maryland — also came out energized in the second half.
Even with Wisconsin looking flat, they held onto the lead for all but one possession in the second half. The Badgers also were able to hit clutch shots late, including a three-pointer by sophomore D’Mitrik Trice with just under a minute remaining to give the Badgers a 60–55 lead. Free throws by sophomore Brad Davison put the game away, and Wisconsin left the United Center with a 66–62 victory.
“We were going to center around [Khalil] and play around that,” Head Coach Greg Gard said of the Trice 3-pointer. “And they backed up enough to try to prevent the catch that D’Mitrik was able to get enough space and a good look at the rim. So that was a big shot.”
The team’s inconsistency surprisingly included senior Ethan Happ, who finished Friday’s game with a season-low four points.
With their team’s leader taking a step back offensively, Iverson and Reuvers stepped up. Both finished with 14 points.
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Nebraska was led by Glynn Watson Jr., who had 23 points, five rebounds and three assists.
“Other guys are getting a lot of attention,” Iverson said. “Me, Aleem, Brad, and Kobe can come off the bench and give us a spark, and then teams will have to respect us too.”
Gard added that “[Happ] was out of sorts from the beginning,” but fortunately had “teammates that rallied to his side and were able to play well.”
With the win, Wisconsin advances to play top-seeded Michigan State at the United Center in Saturday’s semifinal. The game will tip at 12 p.m. and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.