MADISON—With just under 10 minutes left in the game, the Wisconsin Badgers claimed their biggest lead, an 11-point advantage, over the Nebraska Cornhuskers after a monstrous Khalil Iverson dunk electrified the Kohl Center faithful.
After that, it was all downhill.
Nebraska dominated the final nine minutes, 59 seconds, rallying to a 74-63 win over Wisconsin on Monday night. The Huskers outscored the Badgers 30-8 in that time frame in clinching its eighth conference win of the season.
James Palmer, Jr. scored 21 of his game-high 28 points in the second half, including 16 in that critical last 9:45 of the game that led Nebraska (17-8, 8-4 Big Ten) to a road victory. The guard only shot 8-of-19 from the field, but made 11 of 12 free throw attempts along with recording eight rebounds.
Forward Isaac Copeland scored 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting with five rebounds and guard Glynn Watson, Jr. contributed nine of his 15 points in the second half as well for the Huskers.
Wisconsin (10-13, 3-7), for what it’s worth, held Nebraska to only 41.1 percent shooting for the game (23 of 56), including 42.3 percent in the second half. However, they allowed their opponents to connect on 24 of 28 from the free throw line—including 20 of 23 in those final 20 minutes.
UW as a team did not shoot much better, making only 42.6 percent (20 of 47) from the field and connected on just 16 of 31 attempts from the charity stripe in the loss. The Badgers also committed 13 turnovers.
Forward Ethan Happ recorded another double double, scoring a team-high 25 points (8-of-19 shooting) with 11 rebounds and six assists. However, 18 of those 25 came in the first half, and the redshirt junior only converted on eight of his 19 free throws.
Wisconsin extended their lead to 11 thanks in part to a 12-4 run of its own. After a Palmer three-pointer with 14:44 remaining closed the gap to 43-40, Happ, Nate Reuvers, Aaron Moeschand Khalil Iverson all contributed to put the Badgers in a comfortable lead—with Iverson asserting the exclamation point of a dunk that rocked the arena.
Nebraska did not fold, however, scoring six quick points in under a minute, led by two Palmer baskets, to cut the lead down to 55-50 with 8:48 left to play.
After Iverson’s dunk at the 9:59 mark, Wisconsin only scored on two field goals on 13 attempts thereafter—both by the junior forward. He was the only other Badger in double figures for Wisconsin with 13 points, 11 of those coming in the second half.
Iverson’s layup with 6:35 remaining allowed Wisconsin to maintain a lead at 57-54, but the team would not connect on another field goal until his jump shot with 23 seconds left in the game.
In those final 20 minutes, UW only made nine of 23 field goals (39.1 percent).
By then, the deficit was too much to overcome in a 70-63 game, as the team also committed five turnovers and missed six of 10 free throw attempts in those final 10 minutes as well.
“We have to be better,” #Wisconsin junior Ethan Happ said after the Badgers’ 74-63 loss to Nebraska on Monday.
Happ, who finished 8-19 at the free-throw line, is by himself practicing just that, moments after speaking to the media.
— Jonathan Mills (@realJ_Mills) January 30, 2018
Brevin Pritzl scored nine points for the Badgers on 3-of-5 shooting, all three-point attempts.
Wisconsin hopes to turn the tide against Northwestern on Thursday night (7:30 p.m., FS1).