Brad Davison scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half, freshman Chucky Hepburn added 13 in his return to his home state, and No. 11 Wisconsin defeated Nebraska 73-65 on Thursday.
Wisconsin (16-3, 7-2 Big Ten) bounced back from a 12-point home loss to Michigan State last Friday to win for the eighth time in nine games. The Badgers have won five straight conference road games.
Nebraska (6-14, 0-9) lost its seventh straight since a Dec. 22 win over Kennesaw State.
The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday but was pushed back two days to allow Nebraska to come out of a COVID-19 pause.
The Badgers used one of their best 3-point performances to overcome 37% overall shooting and a slow start by Johnny Davis, who was held to a season-low 13 points.
Davison set the Wisconsin record for career 3-pointers, making 5 of 8 to push his total to 274 in 147 games. It was fitting the record fell in Lincoln — in five games there, Davison is 21 of 39 on 3s (54%) in five games at Pinnacle Bank Arena, and he set the school record with eight in a win here two years ago.
Hepburn’s third 3-pointer with 9:28 left in the first half gave the Badgers the lead for good, 23-21, and they built the cushion to as many as 18 points midway through the second half.
Bryce McGowens led the Huskers with 23 points and Alonzo Verge Jr. and Lat Mayen added 11 pieces.
McGowens’ falling-down 3-pointer and one-handed bank-in got Nebraska back within 57-50. The Badgers went more than six minutes without a field goal before back-to-back steals by Hepburn led to fast-break layins that pushed the lead back to 63-50 with 4 minutes left.
Nebraska held Davis scoreless in the first half, but the Badgers still led 39-31 at the break after a 3-point shooting exhibition that saw them go 9 for 14 from deep, the most they’ve made in a half this season.
Davison was 5 for 6 and Hepburn 3 for 4 on 3s in the first half while combining for 26 of the Badgers’ 39 points.
The Badgers were just 1 of 8 on 3s in the second half and finished 10 of 22.
Wisconsin: It didn’t matter that Davis, who’s averaging 24.4 points per game in Big Ten play, was off his game. With Davison leading the early 3-point barrage, the Badgers continued their dominance of Nebraska. They’ve won seven in a row in the series and 15 of 19 since Nebraska joined the conference in 2011.
Nebraska: It isn’t getting any better for embattled third-year coach Fred Hoiberg. The Huskers have lost nine straight to open conference play for the second straight season, their program-record losing streak against ranked opponents stands at 23, and last week senior guard Kobe Webster called out Hoiberg in a radio interview for not holding accountable players.
Hepburn, who played high school basketball 45 minutes away in Bellevue, Nebraska, received a smattering of applause from the small crowd during introductions and scored the game’s first basket with a 3 from the wing.
He got some razzing from the Nebraska student section when his next shot from the same spot glanced off the bottom of the net for a near air ball.
Hepburn had been recruited heavily by former Nebraska coach Tim Miles and seriously considered signing with the Huskers. But his interest in him waned after Miles’ firing from him, and he became the first true freshman to start an opener for Wisconsin since 2001.
Wisconsin: hosts Minnesota on Sunday.
Nebraska: hosts Rutgers on Saturday.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism