Wisconsin was able to get away with horrible shooting against Nebraska.
That might not be the case if it continues over the Badgers’ closing regular-season stretch of five ranked opponents in six games.
Jonathan Davis scored 10 points and made a couple big baskets to help Wisconsin begin pulling away after halftime as the 21st-ranked Badgers beat the Cornhuskers 61-48 on Wednesday night.
Wisconsin shot just 32.3%, its second-worst mark of the season, but still managed to hand the Huskers their third straight double-digit loss.
Next up is No. 3 Michigan at home Sunday.
“Everybody in this locker room has been playing basketball a long time, and you see all good teams go through ebbs and flows,” senior guard Trevor Anderson said. “Now it’s for real. It’s the last little stretch and this whole league has been tough throughout the entire season, but these next six… we’ve got to strap ’em up tight end be ready to play.”
The Badgers (15-6, 9-5 Big Ten) swept the season series and have won six straight over the Huskers. Nebraska (4-11, 0-8) has lost 25 in a row against Big Ten opponents.
“Getting out of this thing with a win (while) not playing to our full potential is definitely a good thing,” Anderson said.
Badgers coach Greg Gard was just happy with the victory regardless of what it looked like. His team has shot under 45% in nine of their last 10 games.
“It’s crucial to get any win,” he said. “This league isn’t easy regardless of the record of anybody or who it is. There are no easy games. You take them one at a time and you take a deep breath and exhale when you get out of somewhere on the road or at home.”
D’Mitrik Trice, Aleem Ford and Brad Davison each scored nine points for the Badgers.
Nebraska got 14 points from Lat Mayen and 12 from Teddy Allen, who didn’t play against Minnesota on Monday for disciplinary reasons.
Nebraska shot 36.7%, made just 7 of 17 free throws and committed 17 turnovers. Nebraska turned the ball over 12 times in the first half and went almost eight minutes without a field goal as Wisconsin took a 30-27 lead.
Nebraska’s offense briefly had some rhythm. Mayen scored 10 quick points to help the Huskers get out to a 22-14 lead, and there was an assist on each of their first eight field goals.
“We were moving the ball and trusting and making the right plays and the right reads,” Huskers coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I thought we did that as well as we have all year.”
Then the Huskers got sloppy, missing six shots and committing six turnovers on their next 12 possessions. After scoring 22 points in the first 10 minutes, they had 26 over the final 30.
“We started trying to go on our own and drive it into the pile again and turning the damn ball over,” Hoiberg said. “It’s got to come to a point where it clicks.”
Nebraska managed only four field goals over a stretch of 20 minutes spanning the halves, and that was enough of an opening for a Wisconsin team that has had its own offensive struggles to take control.
Davis made a 3-pointer and converted a three-point play to get the Badgers a 36-29 lead early in the second half and Nate Reuvers’ layin gave the Badgers their biggest lead at 55-39.
Wisconsin: The Badgers couldn’t afford to lose this one, not with the schedule they face the next three weeks. Their shooting continues to be a concern. Fortunately, they don’t turn over the ball and they play great defense.
Nebraska: There’s no relief in sight for the Huskers, who are in the middle of a stretch of five games in eight days. They haven’t beaten a Big Ten opponent since Jan. 7, 2020.
Nebraska hosts No. 6 Illinois on Friday.
Wisconsin hosts No. 3 Michigan on Sunday.