The No. 10 Badgers were looking for their first outright Big Ten regular-season title since 2015, but in the final minute of the Sunday afternoon game, Nebraska took the lead and held on for a 74-73 win over Wisconsin.
The Badgers struggled in the first half with seven turnovers, four of which came on their first six possessions. Wisconsin was trailing by 12 points as their shots were not falling.
Wisconsin was 3-for-10 on three-point attempts in the opening half. After an early, 3-2 advantage, the Badgers didn’t lead the rest of the half and were down 40-36 when they headed into the locker room. Star guard Johnny Davis had to sit with 10 minutes left in the first half due to foul trouble.
In the first three minutes of the second half, Davis got injured on a flagrant foul by Nebraska's Trey McGowens.
Davis had made an outstanding defensive play and was pushing the ball up the court for a layup when he got hit in the face going up for the basket. He immediately limped off the court and did not return to the bench for the remainder of the game. McGowens was ejected for a flagrant-2 foul after review.
The 6’5” sophomore is unlikely to miss time with the lower-body injury, but it’s unclear how it will affect his performance in the Big Ten tournament and beyond.
“I’m optimistic that he’s going to be fine,” coach Greg Gard said.
Losing their leading scorer early in the second half did not help the Badgers’ mindset. That said, with 12 minutes left in the game, Wisconsin was leading by 10 points. The Badgers held a respectable lead up until the final six minutes, at which point they began to fall apart. They were outscored 14-2 in the final six minutes and were 0-for-8 shooting from the field, including two missed layups and a turnover.
Chucky Hepburn made two of three free throws to put the Badgers within one point of Nebraska with 11 seconds remaining, but Wisconsin was not able to clinch the win.
The Badgers made only 40 percent of their field goals (compared to Nebraska’s 53.7 percent) and 21.7 percent of their three-pointers (to Nebraska’s 27.8 percent). Beyond shooting percentages, though, Wisconsin matched or outperformed the Cornhuskers in most team statistics — it was Davis’ departure that swung the pendulum in Nebraska’s favor.
This was a tough loss for the 10th-ranked Badgers, especially on their senior night. Even so, it was a nice moment as three Wisconsin seniors—Brad Davison, Chris Vogt and Carter Higginbottom — were recognized at their last game at the Kohl Center.
Chris Vogt had a season-high 13 points, three rebounds and two blocks. Davison finished with 20 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
With the loss, Wisconsin must share the conference’s regular-season title with Illinois, which won their only matchup and therefore holds the first seed in the Big Ten tournament.
The Badgers head into the Big Ten tournament as the No. 2 seed. On March 11, Wisconsin will face No. 10 Maryland or No. 7 Michigan State in the quarterfinals. How far these Badgers advance in the postseason figures to depend heavily on the health and effectiveness of Johnny Davis, which should become clear in that Friday evening contest.