Nebraska came up on the short end of a math equation on Tuesday night as the Huskers outscored Wisconsin by 20 points in the paint but still lost 82-68 as the Badgers set a school record with 18 made 3-pointers.
Nebraska seemed determined to take away Wisconsin’s opportunities in the post and the Badgers were content to kick the ball out and swing it until they found an opening, shooting 52.9% from deep.
Nebraska scored 36 points in the paint but shot just 6-of-22 (27.3%) from 3. Thorir Thorbjarnarson and Cam Mack, the team’s leaders in 3-pointers made this season, combined to shoot 3-of-12 from deep.
Dachon Burke Jr. got to the rim all night en route to a game-high 20 points on 10-of-14 shooting with eight rebounds. Kevin Cross Jr. gave the Huskers a spark off the bench with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting (3-of-5 from 3) in 20 minutes, his best game since Big Ten play began.
Mack only shot 5-of-15 from the field but still stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, seven rebounds, six assists and a block. With the 3 not falling, Thorbjarnarson did some damage inside the arc to finish with 12 points. The rest of the Huskers shot 1-of-12 from the field and scored five points.
Seven Badgers scored between eight and 14 points as Wisconsin spread the ball around with 23 assists and just 11 turnovers. Eight different Badgers hit at least one 3-pointer led by Brad Davison (14 points) and Brevin Pritzl (12 points) with four apiece.
Nebraska hit its first five field goals, but Wisconsin knocked down three triples for a 9-9 tie. The third one sparked a 9-3 Wisconsin run before Cross drilled a 3 for Nebraska to make it a one-point game again.
The Badgers hit Nebraska with an 8-0 run consisting of a put-back and two 3-pointers (giving them six in the first 10 minutes of the game) to take a 24-15 lead. Burke got the Huskers going with a dunk and a tough layup on back-to-back possessions, then after a few empty possessions Mack knocked down a pair of 3s from the left wing to make it a 10-0 run and give Nebraska a 25-24 lead.
Wisconsin jumped back in front with a 7-1 run and the teams traded scores for the rest of the half. A layup by Burke and a step-back long-2 in the corner from Cross tied the game up at 36-all before Wisconsin knocked down another 3-pointer with 22 seconds to play.
Mack ran the clock down and got all the way to the rim for a finger roll that just beat the buzzer, making it 39-38 Wisconsin at halftime. The Huskers hit their last six shots of the half. Mack and Burke scored 12 points apiece to lead all scorers on a combined 10-of-14 from the field.
Nebraska shot 55.6% from the field including 4-of-9 from 3, but the Badgers shot 8-of-16 from deep to give them the slight edge despite Nebraska scoring six more points in the paint.
Wisconsin came out of the locker room firing and opened the half with a 10-0 run including back-to-back 3s from Brad Davison to get it started. The Huskers missed their first four shots and turned it over once before Haanif Cheatham finally got a layup to fall off an offensive rebound and pass from Yvan Ouedraogo, but Davison answered with another 3-pointer.
Davison’s 3 sparked a 10-2 run that gave the Badgers a 17-point lead five-and-a-half minutes into the second half. A couple more Ouedraogo offensive boards led to a pair of Nebraska buckets, and then the Huskers got another score after forcing a turnover. However, once again Nebraska lost a Badger on the perimeter as Trevor Anderson hit a 3.
A Wisconsin free throw made the margin 15 before Cross and Burke put the team on their backs and orchestrated a 10-0 run to pull Nebraska within five at 63-58. The Huskers fell asleep yet again on defense and gave up a wide open 3 to Aleem Ford but Cross answered with a triple of his own on the other end, giving him nine points in less than four minutes.
Wisconsin delivered the knock-out blow after that with a 13-1 run including a few more open 3s and a four-minute scoring drought by Nebraska. A 3 by Prtizl gave Wisconsin its largest lead of the game at 18 before the Huskers scored the final four points of the game from the free-throw line.
Nebraska shot 33.3% from the field in the second including 2-of-13 from 3. The Badgers were only 5-of-14 inside the arc but it didn’t matter as they shot 10-of-18 from 3.
Next up for Nebraska is a trip to the RAC in Piscataway, New Jersey, as the Huskers will take on Rutgers for the second time this season on Saturday afternoon. The Scarlet Knights beat the Huskers 79-62 in Lincoln back on Jan. 3.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.