Nebraska is now 7-12 on the year. Not great, but not far removed from what most expected. The Huskers’ flaws, as well as their still-bright future, were on full display Tuesday night as the Badgers let rain a barrage of triples to down NU 82-68.
Next up is Rutgers, on Saturday, in front of what will be a sold-out crowd at the RAC. Tip in that one is set for 1 p.m. CT. First, though, here are three thoughts from Tuesday night’s game.
Same Old, Same Old
Brad Davison had hit just four of his previous 19 attempts from deep before Tuesday night.
You already know where this one is going.
Wisconsin’s junior guard hit four of his nine attempts from 3 against the Huskers. The rest of his teammates were 14-for-25. The Badgers set a single-game program record for 3s made. The Badgers averaged seven a game and hit 18 total. The Badgers yada yada yada.
Nothing new. I’ve written here and elsewhere this is to be expected with Nebraska and the way they’re playing defensively. It’s hard to truly be upset about the strategy. The Huskers are crazy small, so they pack the paint and send bodies whenever the opponent gets a paint touch. The alternative is a zone, which NU used in the second half but still sucked down on paint touches and still gave up 3s, or playing the post straight up.
All that being said, it’s got to be hard to swallow when the Nebraska margin is so small. The Huskers shot 57% in the first half and Cam Mack got hot and Dachon Burke looked damn good around the rim and Kevin Cross hit some key buckets and the Huskers still trailed by a point at the break.
Playing this way requires an above average efficiency on offense, something this team hasn’t shown the ability to do consistently. And you’re giving up three points instead of two on the other end while also still being a poor rebounding team. The size disadvantage doesn’t go away because the opponent is shooting from further out; their big is still there trying to get the board. Wisconsin got 10 offensive boards.
Nebraska used a 10-0 second-half run to try and make things a game again and Wisconsin immediately followed it with a 3 that stopped the run dead in its tracks. Let a team get open looks early and they will shoot themselves into a rhythm. Then even the contested shots later on have a decent chance of going in, regardless of what the season numbers say about said team’s shooting ability.
It got in the hole, though, because the offense missed 10 of its first 15 shots to begin the second half and Wisconsin opened with a 20-4 run.
Again, hard to be upset with the decision as this is just the hand Fred Hoiberg has been dealt this season, but these kinds of shooting performances have become too common.
Boy, Dachon Burke was good, wasn’t he?
Danced but didn’t dance too much. Just enough to get his defender leaning, and then blew by and got to the bucket. Burke likes to shoot off-balance and likes to stop and pop for a mid-range jumper every now and again. He was 10-for-14 against the Badgers, with 20 points and eight boards, and nearly all of his takes were around the basket.
Think about that Burke, an attacking Burke who’s beating his man off the dribble and finishing, flanked by a full complement of shooters. Now think about that kind of Burke playing in a screen-and-roll/pop game with the Kevin Cross that was on display Tuesday night?
The freshman forward had 17 points off the bench on 6-of-11 shooting. At times he played good defense in the post. He looked more than comfortable operating on the perimeter. He looked comfortable handling the ball. He’s an intriguing big man in this system. And with him as a screener, you could replace Burke with Mack who’s pretty darn good or Teddy Allen coming in who’s pretty darn good, or maybe even Dalano Banton if you want to get wacky.
There’s a reason the broadcast crew was spending most of the game’s closing minutes talking about how Hoiberg is going to have this thing up and running soon. He will. Nebraska needs to add a bit more, and some of that size is just waiting in the wings.
The Huskers have some outstanding guards. Scoring shouldn’t be an issue in the seasons to come. It’s funny that picture gets a little spotlight on a night when NU scores 68 and shoots just 43%.
Since there wasn’t much else in this one… Who saw Kansas’ Silvio De Sousa nearly go full WWE and throw a chair at someone in a benches-clearing brawl to end the Kansas-Kansas State game?
The fight was incredibly dumb and dangerous and suspensions are most definitely coming, but the content that came about as its byproduct was gold.
Kansas-Kansas State recap: pic.twitter.com/vTzBe9AkVz
— Colton Pouncy (@colton_pouncy) January 22, 2020
— George Stoia III (@GeorgeStoia) January 22, 2020
— Chris Williamson (@CWilliamson44) January 22, 2020
It's a testament to college athletics: McGregor and Cowboy got paid millions to punch each other for 40 seconds, these kids in Kansas threw more punches just for the love of the game.
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) January 22, 2020
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.