MADISON, Wis.: Brad Davison had 15 points and a career-high seven assists, and No. 9 Wisconsin overcame a dreadful start to beat Nebraska 67-53 Tuesday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
Micah Potter added 10 points and 11 rebounds and sparked a key 14-0 run late in the first half. Fifth-year senior Aleem Ford celebrated his 24th birthday with 13 points and eight rebounds to help the Badgers (7-1) earn their ninth straight conference victory and 15th straight home win.
The Badgers closed the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season by winning eight straight conference games to share the Big Ten regular-season title with Maryland and Michigan State.
Dalano Banton scored 15 points, Teddy Allen had 11 and Trey McGowens added 10 for Nebraska (4-4).
Wisconsin was coming off an 85-48 blowout of Louisville then ranked 23rd for the Badgers’ most lopsided victory over a Top 25 team in program history. But the team that looked so dominant Saturday afternoon faced an early double-digit deficit against Nebraska.
The Badgers missed 15 of their first 16 shots from the floor, went nearly eight minutes without a basket and scored just three points in the first 11-plus minutes of the game.
After Jonathan Davis sank a 3-pointer to give Wisconsin a 3-2 lead with 15:07 left in the first half, the Badgers didn’t get another basket until Nate Reuvers made a layup with 7:19 remaining until halftime. Reuvers finished with 10 points.
Yet the Badgers rallied to take the lead by the end of the first half.
Ford scored seven points during a 14-0 run late in the first half that turned a 21-11 deficit into a 25-21 advantage.
The Badgers led 25-24 at halftime and extended the lead to six early in the second half, but Nebraska pulled back ahead 33-32 on McGowens 3-pointer with 14:23 left.
Potter put Wisconsin back ahead for good by sinking two free throws with 14:03 remaining. Those two free throws started a 16-0 run that put the game away.
During that spurt, Potter scored seven points and assisted on 3-pointers by Trevor Anderson and Davison.
Nebraska: Two nights after Northwestern surprised Michigan State 79-65, Nebraska seemed intent on producing an equally stunning result before Wisconsin pulled away in the second half. It didnt help that leading scorer Teddy Allen was called for three fouls in the first half and picked up his fourth with 12:06 remaining. Allen played 25 minutes before fouling out.
Wisconsin: The Badgers wont be able to afford these types of slow starts against most Big Ten teams. Tuesdays game showed how Wisconsin can be vulnerable if its not hitting from outside. The Badgers shot 33 of 65 from 3-point range in two regular-season victories over Nebraska last year, but they missed 10 of their first 11 attempts from beyond the arc Tuesday before finishing 8 of 26.
This type of lackluster performance isn’t likely to impress Top 25 voters, but it will be forgotten if the Badgers beat Michigan State on Christmas Day.
Wisconsin visits No. 12 Michigan State on Friday.
Nebraska hosts No. 19 Michigan on Friday.
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