The Nebraska men’s basketball team erased a 14-point deficit and led No. 25 Wisconsin in the second half, but the Huskers could not overcome a cold shooting night in a 62-51 loss to the Badgers Tuesday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Huskers made only 17 field goals and shot just 28.3 percent, both of which were season lows. The missed shots did lead to a season-high 18 offensive rebounds for the Big Red, but Nebraska was able to turn those second chances into only seven points.
Nebraska (13-8, 3-7 Big Ten) has shot below 42 percent in each contest of its four-game losing streak, a mark the Huskers failed to reach only twice in the first 17 games of the season. Isaiah Roby led the Huskers with a game-high 18 points – including 12 in the second half, and he narrowly missed a double-double by grabbing nine rebounds. James Palmer Jr. added 14 points for the Huskers, while Thomas Allen scored 10 points, matching his career high for a Big Ten Conference game. Off the bench, Thorir Thorbjarnarson scored three points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds after entering the contest with 13 career rebounds. Nebraska enjoyed a plus-eight advantage overall on the glass.
In addition to hitting only 17-of-60 shots, Nebraska was just 4-of-20 from the 3-point line. Wisconsin was 9-of-23 from beyond the arc and shot 43.6 from the field overall, making seven more field goals than the Huskers. Brad Davison led the Badgers with 14 points, including 11 in the second half. Ethan Happ and Nate Reuvers each added 10 points for Wisconsin.
The Huskers struggled on offense for most of the first half before making a strong push in the final seven minutes to pull within 28-21 at the break. NU shot just 23 percent in the half, including 1-of-8 from 3-point range, but found the range later in the half to cut a 14-point deficit to four in the final minutes of the half.
Early on, the Huskers got a strong effort from Allen, who scored four of his first seven first-half points, as Nebraska took an 8-7 lead after a James Palmer Jr. basket with 14:13 left in the half. The Huskers then went ice cold as the Badgers ran off 14 straight points as part of a 16-1 run to build a 23-9 lead after a Khalil Iverson basket with 7:17 left in the half.
NU would chip away, as the Husker defense allowed just one field goal in the final seven minutes. Nebraska went on a 12-2 run as Roby and Palmer combined for 10 points as the Huskers closed to within 25-21 with 1:20 left in the half before Brian Priztl hit a late 3-pointer to send the Badgers into the locker room with a seven-point lead.
Nebraska came out strong in the second half. Palmer scored Nebraska’s first five points of the half and Roby scored the Huskers’ next six points to tie the game at 32-32. Nebraska used a 9-0 run to take a three-point lead five minutes into the half on a conventional three-point play from Watson and the Huskers maintained the three-point advantage three minutes later, leading 40-37 with 12:03 to play following an Allen 3-pointer.
But Wisconsin answered with consecutive 3-pointers to spark an 8-0 run to take the lead for good. A pair of Roby free throws pulled Nebraska to within four with 7:12 remaining, but Davison scored seven straight points to stretch the lead to 55-44 with 4:33 left.
Nebraska will look to get back on the winning track on Saturday, when the Huskers take on the Illinois Fighting Illini at 1:15 p.m. in Champaign, Ill. Saturday’s game will be televised on BTN, with the Husker Sports Network providing live radio coverage.