Nebraska’s run in Chicago came to an end on Friday afternoon as the short-handed and 13th-seeded Huskers ran out of gas down the stretch in a 66-62 loss to No. 4 seed Wisconsin in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
Glynn Watson Jr. put the Huskers (18-16) on his back, finishing with a game-high 23 points, but he missed his final three shots as well as the front-end of the bonus and Wisconsin (23-9) hit a couple of big shots to secure the win. Watson shot 9-of-21 from the field and 5-of-14 from 3 while adding five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal to his stat line.
James Palmer Jr. never quite got it going, finishing 6-of-21 from the field and 1-of-7 from 3 with just one trip to the foul line. He had 15 points, four steals, two rebounds, two assists and two turnovers. Junior Isaiah Roby finished with 13 points, six rebounds, four blocks, three steals and two assists but he shot just 4-of-11 from the field and turned the ball over five times.
Watson, Palmer and Roby each played the full 40 minutes as Miles went with a six-man rotation. Walk-on Johnny Trueblood was the only reserve who got in the game.
The Huskers shot 38.1 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from deep whileattempting just eight free throws, making six of them. The Huskers grabbed five more offensive boards than the Badgers but Wisconsin was plus-one in second-chance points.
Nebraska held Wisconsin’s star center Ethan Happ to four points on 2-of-4 shooting, four assists and seven turnovers but Wisconsin had four others in double figures scoring—Khalil Iverson and Nate Reuvers with 14 apiece and Brad Davison and Aleem Ford with 11 each. Wisconsin turned the ball over 17 times but Nebraska only converted them into 14 points. Wisconsin shot 48 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from 3 and 11-of-12 from the free-throw line.
Nebraska got off to a slow start with two air-balls, a bad pass turnover and a missed fadeaway jumper on its first four possessions. Wisconsin jumped out to an 8-0 lead and drew an early timeout from Tim Miles.
During the break, Miles subbed Trueblood in for Thorir Thorbjarnarson and the Huskers scored their first points on a post move from Roby. Wisconsin scored on its fifth straight possession on the other end before Trueblood took it strong to the basket and beat the shot clock buzzer to make it 10-4 Wisconsin.
Nebraska got a couple of stops and a Borchardt put-back to pull the Huskers within four, but Wisconsin hit the Huskers with an 11-2 run to take a 21-8 lead. During that run, a bad goaltending call wiped away a put-back by Isaiah Roby and Tim Miles got rung up for a technical foul while arguing the call.
Davison hit both free throws then Ford hit a 3 for a five-point possession. Watson knocked down a jumper to break a 7-0 run but Wisconsin's answered with a four-point play from Ford, knocking down his second straight triple plus a foul.
Watson countered with a 3 of his own, sparking a 10-2 run for the Huskers that included a steal and slam by Roby plus a foul followed by a second-chance score for Palmer that made it 23-18 midway through the half.
Nebraska pulled within four with a layup by Palmer and a free throw by Roby but the Badgers ripped off a 9-0 run to push the lead back to 13 with less then four minutes to play in the half.
Then Watson took over. He snapped the run with a tough 3 off the dribble, an even tougher floater over Ethan Happ and another deep 3-pointer for a personal 8-0 run as the Huskers forced Wisconsin into three misses and two turnovers over the final three minutes.
Wisconsin shot 56.5 percent from the field in the first half but turned the ball over nine times. The Huskers turned it over seven times themselves, however, and only had a 9-8 edge in points off turnovers. The Huskers only shot 44.4 percent but rebounded six of their 15 misses and earned an 8-4 advantage in second-chance points.
Watson led the Huskers with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting in the first half while Iverson had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting for the Badgers. Happ had four points on three shots, three assists and three turnovers.
Wisconsin scored on the first possession of the second half to push the lead to seven but Nebraska countered with five straight by Roby to make it a two-point game. The lead bounced between two and five over the next few minutes until a 3 by Thorbjarnarson cut it to one.
After a few empty possessions, Palmer gave the Huskers their first lead of the game at 46-45 with just over 10 minutes to play. However, Wisconsin countered with a 3 off the glass by Reuvers.
After taking the lead for a brief moment, Nebraska missed eight shots in a row, allowing Wisconsin to re-take the lead and pull ahead 52-46. Roby got to the foul line and hit both shots to end the 7-0 run.
Nebraska forced a miss at the rim by Happ but couldn’t secure the board and D’Mitrik Trice took advantage of the second chance and drilled a 3. Watson scored five straight for the Huskers to cut it to two but Ford knocked down a free-throw line jumper on the next possession.
Watson pulled up from 3 again but misfired. Palmer stole the ball from Iverson, however, and passed it up the floor to Trueblood for a layup that made it 57-55 with three minutes to play. The Huskers got a stop and Watson was fouled on the rebound, sending him to the line for the single bonus with a chance to tie the game. He missed the front end, however, and Wisconsin secured the board.
After running off some clock, Davison missed a 3, leaving the door open for Nebraska once again. Watson went for the lead with a 3 of his own but was off-target once again. Wisconsin called a timeout wth 58.6 to play to set up their possession and after running down the clock, Davison hit a dagger of a 3 to put the Badgers up five with 50 seconds to play. Watson missed another 3, Davison hit two free throws to put the Badgers up seven and the Huskers got no closer than five until a 3 by Palmer at the buzzer.
Wisconsin only grabbed five offensive rebounds in the second half but the Badgers made them count, converting them into nine second chance points. Nebraska shot 33.3 percent from the field in the second half.
The Badgers will take on top-seeded Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Saturday.
After the game, Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos released a statement saying he would wait until after potential postseason participation (namely, the NIT) by the Huskers before determining the status of Miles’ job moving forward.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. 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.