It took a while for Wisconsin to get going in their Big Ten opener against Nebraska Tuesday night — but thanks to a 16-0 run in the second half, the Badgers were able to take down the Cornhuskers by a final of 67-53.
Senior guard Brad Davison led the way for Wisconsin with 15 points, seven assists and three rebounds while birthday boy Aleem Ford scored 13 and added eight rebounds and a block on the night.
The game opened up extremely sloppy, with the Badgers committing six turnovers, and shooting 1-12 from the field and 0-7 from beyond the arc halfway through the first half. The team was only able to muster up three points in those 10 minutes off a Johnny Davis jumper from beyond the arc.
“The first half we settled too much on offense, there were a lot of shots that never touched the post, and when we did get it in there we didn’t do a good job at converting,” head coach Greg Gard said after the game.
“You gotta give Nebraska credit, they came out with a lot of toughness,” senior forward Micah Potter said. “We weren’t shooting the ball well, but once we were able to get back into our style of play it made the game a little easier. Like I’ve said before our offense comes from the defense so we had to lock in at that end of the court.”
With four minutes left in the first half Wisconsin was able to trim the deficit to a couple points thanks to some timely shots by Aleem Ford and Micah Potter, and eventually took the lead going into halftime off a jumper by Ford a couple minutes later.
“We just had to keep that next play mentality in the first half,” Brad Davison said. “There’s a lot of different ways [players] can add value to a basketball team other than scoring, we just have to take pride of doing the little things because that will win you basketball games.”
Wisconsin took off in the second half after another shaky first few minutes of the period, tearing off a 16-0 run led by Micah Potter. Potter scored or assisted on 13 of the 16 points in the run, including two kick-out passes from the paint that went for Trevor Anderson and Brad Davison three-pointers.
The Badgers were able to close out the last nine minutes of the game after that run put them up 48-33, on the back of Davison and this fancy assist.
Wisconsin ended the game with only 11 turnovers after committing six of them in the first 10 minutes of the game, and came back to shoot about 50 percent from the field after the 1-12 start. Also of note, the Badgers were able to hit all 15 of their free throw attempts tonight, including 11 in the second half.
“Coach Gard told us at halftime that we just had to come out with a little more intensity and urgency,” Davison said. “Because once we see a shot or two go in it just becomes contagious.”
Wisconsin plays No. 12 Michigan State in their next matchup at 11:30 a.m. on Christmas day, in a nice warmup to the Bucks 1:30 p.m. game against the Warriors.