Madison, Wis. - The Nebraska basketball team erased an 11-point second-half deficit, outscoring Wisconsin 30-8 over the final 10 minutes to rally for a 74-63 victory over the Badgers on Monday night at the Kohl Center.
The Huskers had trailed for much of the night and faced their largest deficit at 55-44 midway through the second half. Playing a fourth game in eight days, Nebraska dug deep and used a pair of 8-0 spurts to end the game on a 30-8 run and claim their first Big Ten Conference victory at the Kohl Center and a regular-season sweep of the Badgers.
With the win, the Huskers improved to 17-8 overall and remained in fourth place in the conference standings with an 8-4 league mark, its best conference mark after 12 games since 1999.
James Palmer Jr. continued his impressive play, finishing with a game-high 28 points, his fourth 20-point effort in the last six games. Palmer scored 21 of his points in the second half, hitting 6-of-11 shots from the field in the final 20 minutes and 8-of-9 from the line.
Isaac Copeland added 17 points and Glynn Watson Jr. chipped in 15 points and five assists. The trio of Palmer, Copeland and Watson combined for 40 points of Nebraska's 44 second-half points, including each of the final 19 points. The Huskers outscored Wisconsin 44-31 in the second half, with 30 of those points coming in the final 10 minutes.
The Huskers shot 41.1 percent from the field on the game and were just 4-of-19 from 3-point range. But Nebraska went 24-of-28 at the free-throw line, including 20-of-23 in the second half and 14-of-16 down the stretch.
Nebraska also had to overcome a season-high 26 fouls, as Wisconsin attempted 31 free throws in the game, but converted on only 16 of those attempts.
Ethan Happ posted a double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Badgers, but the Huskers held Happ to 7 points on 2-of-8 shooting in the second half after Happ erupted for 18 first-half points. Wisconsin fell to 10-13 overall and dropped to 3-7 in Big Ten play.
Wisconsin scored the game's first 4 points and led for most of the opening half. Back-to-back 3-point plays by Jordy Tshimanga and Palmer tied the game at 10-all before the Badgers responded with 8 straight points.
Wisconsin maintained its 8-point advantage at 25-17 following a TJ Schlundt 3-pointer, but the Huskers turned up the defensive pressure from there and allowed only 2 field goals over the final 9 minutes of the half.
With the defense limiting the Badgers' offense, a 3-pointer from Thomas Allen sparked a 7-0 Nebraska spurt that tied the game at 28-28. Following a Happ free throw, Palmer knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Huskers their first lead at 30-29. Wisconsin was able to take a 32-30 lead into the locker room when Happ made a layup with 2 seconds remaining.
Four Huskers had at least 5 points in the first half, led by 7 points apiece from Palmer and Copeland. Happ had 18 first-half points and assisted on 3 other Badger baskets. Wisconsin hit 4-of-12 from beyond the arc and shot 45.8% in the opening half, while Nebraska was just 12-of-30 from the field (40.0%), including 2-of-11 from the 3-point line.
After hitting the final basket of the first half, Wisconsin scored the first 5 points of the second half to build a 7-point lead. Copeland responded with his second 3-pointer of the game to trim the lead to 4 and Palmer added his first 3-pointer three minutes later to pull the Huskers within 3 at 43-40.
The Badgers answered with 7 straight points to build their first double-digit lead at 50-40 with less than 13 minutes remaining. The lead grew to as many as 11 before Nebraska scored 6 points in a 57-second span as part of a larger 8-0 run. The Huskers hit 5 consecutive shots during the run, which cut the lead to 55-54 with 7:28 remaining following a pair of free throws from Watson.
Nebraska pulled even at 58-58 when Copeland cut to the basket and made a layup off a nice assist from Isaiah Roby. Copeland then picked up a steal and Palmer converted on the other end with a driving layup to put Huskers in front, 60-58. Copeland continued to impact the game by knocking down a pair of free throws and Palmer capped another run of 8 straight Husker points with two free throws of his own that left Nebraska with a 64-58 advantage with 1:55 remaining.
In the midst of a 20-3 run, Nebraska held Wisconsin scoreless for nearly 4 minutes before the Badgers connected on a free throw. The game turned into a free-throw shooting contest from there as Nebraska did not hit a field goal over the final 4:35, but NU did knock down 14-of-16 free throws down the stretch to seal the comeback victory. Palmer went a perfect 6-of-6 from the line over the final two minutes, kwhile Watson was 5-of-6.
After playing 4 games in the past 8 days, Nebraska is off the rest of this week before returning to action next Tuesday, Feb. 6, at Minnesota. Tip-off between the Huskers and Golden Gophers is set for 8 p.m. and the game - Nebraska's next-to-last road contest - will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
- James Palmer Jr. finished with a game-high 28 points, his seventh 20-point game this season. He has scored 28 or more in 3 of the last 4 games. He has been in double figures in 23 of 25 games.
- Nebraska overcame an 11-point deficit, its largest of the season (7 at Northwestern). It is the seventh time Nebraska has overcome a double-figure deficit in a win. The last one was an 11-point deficit at Ohio State last season
- With the win, Nebraska improved to 8-4 in Big Ten play, its best conference record after 12 games since 1998-99, when NU opened Big 12 play with a 9-3 record.
- Nebraska earned its first win in Madison since a 75-63 win on Dec. 11, 1990, snapping a four-game losing streak in Madison.
- Nebraska’s six turnovers is its second-lowest of the season (5 at Michigan State)
- Nebraska went 24-28 from the foul line, as its 85.7 percent shooting was its second-best total of the season (15-17 at Northwestern).