Nebraska basketball traveled to Madison, Wisconsin for a showdown with the 21st -ranked Badgers. The Huskers came into Saturday’s game fresh off a win against Indiana, and look to continue their good fortune. In the meantime, the Badgers were looking to start a new winning streak after losing two in a row to Nebraska over the past couple seasons. This included a win by the Huskers in Madison on March 6, 2022.
Nebraska fell behind in the game early, and never recovered. The Huskers stars tried their best, as Keisei Tominaga led the Big Red with 17 points. Rienk Mast chipped in 16 while Bryce Williams was able to score 10. Nevertheless, it was not enough to be a Wisconsin team that was absolutely dominant offensively.
The Badgers were able to shoot with efficiency and volume, and it was simply too much for the Huskers to overcome. They set the tone with a balanced offensive attack that included inside and outside scoring. That strategy kept Nebraska basketball off-balance all night.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s big loss.
Nebraska basketball still has trouble defending the paint
Nebraska basketball still has trouble defending in the paint. That showed up in Saturday’s loss to Wisconsin. Wisconsin forward Tyler Wahl had 17 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Wisconsin held a 33-28 advantage in rebounds, and that undoubtedly made the difference.
Wisconsin used the advantage on the inside in order to create offense for the perimeter shooters. allowed for the Badger bigs to be able to take advantage inside. This allowed Wahl, among others the feast and get to their spots when necessary. The weapons on both the perimeter and inside made it difficult for Nebraska to stop the offensive machine of the Badgers.
Wahl among others really created problems for Nebraska basketball inside. This is certainly something to monitor, as Big Ten play continues. The conference is packed with centers and guards that can get to the inside rather easily. This could be a challenge for Nebraska basketball moving forward.
Pace of play is still an issue for Nebraska basketball
Nebraska basketball struggles with fast pace of play, and it showed against a team like Wisconsin. The Badgers were able to move the basketball quickly and efficiently. This caused defensive mismatches for the Huskers.
Part of Wisconsin’s success with the three-point shot was due to how quickly they moved the basketball. They were able to get to their spots, and release the ball quickly before the Huskers defense was able to get set. Nebraska native Chucky Hepburn led all Wisconsin starters with three three-point shots made.
However, the solid work from behind the arc wasn’t limited to just the starters. Connor Essegian came off the bench and established his presence early. He made four three-pointers on the day, and was able to supplement Wisconsin’s offense. The Huskers had trouble defending the perimeter all day, and that played right into the hands of the Badgers.
Wisconsin’s ability to move the basketball quickly and get out in transition efficiently forced Nebraska basketball into a bit of a difficult situation. Nebraska likes to play more deliberately, and playing fast is not necessarily something they want to do.
It will be interesting to see how they combat a fast pace of play over the course of the Big Ten schedule. This is something that they struggle with, and it needs to be fixed quickly.
Top plays from today's win!
Badgers are now 3-0 in the Big Ten pic.twitter.com/XLyLxVjqyM
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) January 6, 2024
Jamarques Lawrence needs to step up his game
Nebraska basketball needs more out of Jamarques Lawrence down the stretch. After a 12-point game against Indiana on Wednesday, he only scored three points against Wisconsin.
He shot 33% overall, and added two rebounds to the mix as well. For what it’s worth, he did have a steal, but point production has been missing. This is something that has been a trend lately. He scored eight points against South Carolina State on December 29, and two points against Kansas State on December 17.
Over the last month or so, it seems like he has taken a backseat offensively in this offense. The Indiana game was an outlier over the stretch, and it’s no coincidence that Nebraska was able to come away with the victory. The program is better when Lawrence is on the attack, and a focal point within the offense.
Lawrence provided a spark for Nebraska basketball at the end of last season during Big Ten play. He needs to take on that same commanding role if the Huskers are to have any success in the next couple of games.
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