Published Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 5:26 pm / Updated at 12:02 am
Huskers come up empty

LINCOLN — About the only thing missing at the Devaney Center on Sunday were peach baskets and a ladder.

In a game played at a pace from a bygone era, Nebraska took the lead with 6:19 to play, then went scoreless for more than five minutes, allowing Wisconsin to escape with a 47-41 victory.

That was 13 fewer points than the schools’ football teams scored in the Big Ten championship game last month.

“That was a work of art,” Badgers forward Jared Berggren, who scored 12 of his game-high 13 points in the second half, wryly noted.

UW (11-4, 2-0 Big Ten) could afford to joke after stealing a win. Nebraska (9-6, 0-2) took this one hard because chances at conference victories this season will be rare.

“We were right there,” NU wing Dylan Talley said. “We felt we should have won the game. But we didn’t.”

Husker coach Tim Miles was pained at letting one get away in front of a home crowd of 8,258. Even more so after seeing how poorly Wisconsin shot: 37.7 percent overall, 23.5 percent on 3s (4 of 17) and 23.1 percent on free throws (3 of 13).

“To have one where you have a high-profile team coming in and you’ve got a chance to beat them and you don’t,” he said, “you’re sick to your stomach.”

But Miles saw progress, especially after recent games in which the Huskers seemed to take rest breaks, such as last week’s 70-44 loss to Ohio State.

“This sick to my stomach I can live with,” he said, “compared to the sick to my stomach after the Ohio State game. That’s got to be what our identity looks like — a team that is out there scrapping and fighting.”

Still, the ball eventually has to go in the basket, something Nebraska is well aware of after point totals in the past five losing efforts of 42, 38, 52, 44 and 41, respectively.

How out of sync was NU’s offense?

The Huskers scored on back-to-back possessions four times. And never on three or more straight trips down court.

One of the few Nebraska bursts involved baskets on four of six possessions deep into the second half. One was a three-point play from Talley. The other three were 2-point jumpers from Ray Gallegos, the last of which produced a 38-37 lead with 6:19 to go.

Then came a miss on a one-and-one free throw and six straight wayward shots with no offensive rebounds. By then, Wisconsin had taken a 44-38 lead.

Talley and Gallegos led the Huskers with 12 points each, but were a combined 11 of 28 from the field against a Badger defense that is No. 1 in the Big Ten.

“They contest 3s and they do a good job of not fouling at the rim,” Talley said. “All your points come from tough 2s. And they rebound the ball, so you didn’t get many second-chance points.”

Of Nebraska’s 35 rebounds, three came offensively.

Husker forward Brandon Ubel hit a 3 with one minute left to cut the deficit to 44-41. But Wisconsin guard Traevon Jackson hit a game-clinching jumper in the lane with 36 seconds left.

Any basket was a good basket Sunday, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.

“I have no idea how we could shoot like that,” he groaned. “I challenged Tim to a game of H-O-R-S-E afterward to show these guys how to make shots.”

Berggren, Wisconsin’s 6-foot-10, fifth-year senior, finally got the hang of it the second half. He was 6 of 9 in the second 20 minutes. Three of his baskets cut a Nebraska lead to one point. Two produced leads.

“It gave us life,” Ryan said. “It’s like I told the guys on the bench, ‘Thank goodness he’s starting to get into a rhythm and somebody is putting the ball through the net.’”

Nebraska’s shooting totals weren’t much better than Wisconsin’s. NU hit 36.7 percent overall, 16.7 percent on 3s (2 of 12) and 60 percent on free throws (3 of 5).

“I thought our guys played extremely well defensively,” Ryan said. “And I thought their guys did, too. I don’t think there is any other way you can describe this game.”

NOTES: Matthew Atewe, a 6-9, 230-pound forward, made his official recruiting visit to Nebraska during the weekend. The Canadian, who plays at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., also has visited Kansas State. ... Just before tipoff, retiring Athletic Director Tom Osborne was called to midcourt where Miles presented him a framed No. 1 jersey. ... Shavon Shields made his first start for NU. ... Andre Almeida (ankle) could have played, but Miles said he decided about eight minutes into the game not to risk reinjury, especially against a Wisconsin team with five shooting threats.

Contact the writer:


Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.



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