Badgers foiled by Cornhuskers
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan says he never understood the hubbub about his team being a possibility for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
He’s got more immediate concerns anyway.
Frank Kaminsky scored 14 points and Wisconsin put four players in double figures, but the ninth-ranked Badgers had no answer for Nebraska’s Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields in the second half of a 77-68 loss Sunday night.
The Badgers’ longest conference winning streak since 1940-41 ended at eight games. Entering the Nebraska game, there was at least some talk about a road to a No. 1 seed.
"I don’t even know what that is. I don’t even know what you’re talking about," Ryan said. "You guys don’t know me. No. 1 seed for what? We’re the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament. That’s the only thing I know."
Wisconsin (25-6, 12-6), runner-up to Michigan in the regular season, will play Minnesota or Penn State on Friday in the conference tournament in Indianapolis.
Petteway and Shields scored 26 points apiece for the Huskers, who beat Wisconsin for the first time in five meetings since they joined the league three years ago.
Kaminsky made a 3-pointer to give the Badgers the lead with 12 minutes to play, but Shields fueled a 12-1 Nebraska run that decided the outcome.
"We had a scouting report, and we let them get away with some things," Kaminsky said. "We have to be ready for the next time if we have to play them again."
Nigel Hayes added 12 points for Wisconsin. Josh Gasser had 11 and Ben Brust finished with 10.
The Huskers (19-11, 11-7) won for the 10th time in 12 games to clinch fourth place in the Big Ten for their highest conference finish since 1997-98.
"That’s what we want Husker basketball to be about and that’s what we want it to continue to be about," second-year Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. "We’ve had a good run, a really good run. But we’re only halfway through the journey."
The game was billed as "No-Sit Sunday," with Miles imploring fans to stay on their feet the whole game. The amped-up sellout crowd of 15,998 at Pinnacle Bank Arena lived up to the occasion, helping Nebraska to a second win against a top-10 team for the first time since 1993-94.
The Huskers won 11 conference games for the first time since 1965-66.
"We have to keep it going and not let our heads get big and just stay modest and keep humble," Shields said. "Keep our underdog thing going."
Shields made a couple free throws, Ray Gallegos hit a 3 and Shields dunked in transition to start the decisive run that turned a 52-48 deficit into a 60-53 lead with 5 minutes left.
"Win the game, get in the tournament," Shields said, describing the Huskers’ mindset coming into the day.
When the buzzer sounded, Nebraska’s student section rushed the court and bounced to the music. Now the Huskers go to Indianapolis for the Big Ten tournament, where they’ll play Ohio State or Purdue on Friday.
On top of a Nebraska defense that held Wisconsin to 43-percent shooting, the Badgers struggled at the free-throw line, making just 11 of 21.
"We just didn’t do the things necessary to win the basketball game. That’s what it boils down to," Kaminsky said.
Kaminsky’s 3-pointer gave Wisconsin its last lead before the Huskers went on their pivotal run.
"Once we got the lead, we weren’t going to give it back," Petteway said.
The stage was set early on for a big night at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Gallegos and fellow senior Mike Peltz were honored, with Peltz taking the festivities to the next level when he got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend at center court with his teammates jumping around behind him. She said yes.
Miles narrated a video tribute to the fans and, for the first time, the team ran onto the court through a fog machine. A card section was set up in the south end zone, with students raising a giant red "N" against a white backdrop before tipoff.