Men's basketball

Trice looking for first career points against Nebraska as Badgers travel to Lincoln

Wisconsin point guard D'mitrik Trice went scoreless in his only career game against Nebraska, but he's a dramatically different player than he was in that contest two seasons ago.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

In 67 games at Wisconsin, sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice has scored 586 points. 

He’s hit layups, floaters, step-backs and spot-ups galore — especially this season, where he is averaging a career-high 14.2 points per game.

But never against Nebraska.

Trice is scoreless against the Cornhuskers in his Wisconsin career, having gone scoreless in Lincoln as a true freshman and missing both dates last season due to injury.

“Honestly, I didn’t know that,” Trice said ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Lincoln. “I didn’t think about it … just you mentioning that actually makes me a little bit more excited to get my first bucket against Nebraska.”

Trice will return to Nebraska as a much-changed player from the one who shot just zero of three in 16 minutes two seasons ago. The redshirt sophomore guard leads this year’s team in minutes and is second in scoring, coming off of an impressive 18-point showing against Northwestern on Saturday.

“I’ve definitely evolved as a player, as a true point guard,” Trice said. “My scoring ability has obviously gone up a little bit, so my whole mentality has changed since my freshman year. I was definitely more of a role player, I’ve come into this team and played a more dominant role as a leader, and as a point guard.”

Head coach Greg Gard hinted at Trice’s growing versatility after the win vs. Northwestern, suggesting that Trice’s red-hot three-point shooting in the season’s early stages — he shot 60.6 percent from three over the team’s first five games — was always going to cool off some. He’s averaging career highs in assists (2.7) and rebounds (3.2) this year, and he’s recaptured his shooting as of late, with a four of six performance from deep against Northwestern

“I think he’s done a better job of understanding how he can impact the game in ways other than scoring,” Gard said on Saturday. “[Assistant] coach [Dean] Oliver’s done a terrific job with him with teaching with film, and it helps to have a guy of Dean’s experience and the levels he’s played at to tutor a young guard.”

Trice is certainly capable of impacting a game without scoring, but the Badgers are undoubtedly at their best when their diminutive guard is getting buckets.

In losses this season, Trice is averaging 10.5 points per game on 31.3 percent shooting. In wins that bumps up to 15.8 points per game on 49.4 percent shooting. No other player in Wisconsin’s regular rotation bumps their scoring as much in victories, and only Kobe King exceeds Trice’s 16.1 percent shooting bump.

Trice, in his own words, is still evolving as a player, but much of the role Gard relies on him to perform is still shot-making.

Those abilities will be needed as the Badgers (6-3 Big Ten, 14-6 overall) travel to Lincoln looking for their fourth-straight win. The Cornhuskers (3-6 Big Ten, 13-7 overall), conversely, have dropped three straight during a stretch against No. 6 Michigan State, Rutgers and Ohio State.

The Cornhuskers suffered another blow after senior Isaac Copeland tore his ACL in the game against Ohio State, leaving Nebraska without its second-leading scorer for the rest of the season.

The Badgers will hope Trice can score his first point — and many more — against the Cornhuskers on Tuesday.

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