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Red-hot Nebraska eyeing upset at No. 21 Wisconsin

red-hot-nebraska-eyeing-upset-at-no.-21-wisconsin

A pair of Big Ten teams off to good starts in conference play meet in Madison, Wis., on Saturday afternoon when No. 21 Wisconsin hosts Nebraska.

The Badgers (10-3, 2-0 Big Ten) have won both their conference games by double digits, including Tuesday’s 83-72 home victory over Iowa, while Nebraska (12-2, 2-1) has matched its best three-game league start since 2017-18 after Wednesday’s 86-70 home win over Indiana.

Wisconsin is led by AJ Storr, a St. John’s transfer who is averaging 15.1 points overall and 19.0 in Big Ten games. Against Iowa, Tyler Wahl led the way with a season-high 19 points and was 11 of 13 from the line.

“Tyler Wahl was really efficient, getting 19 points on six shots and how he got to the line and converted at the line,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said.

The Badgers were 25 of 35 on foul shots (20 of 26 in the second half) and for the season make 76.0 percent of their free throws.

“For us, it’s always a point of emphasis, no matter who we play,” Gard said.

Living at the line may be harder against Nebraska, which allows only 15.4 foul shots per game. The Cornhuskers are also hot, bringing a five-game win streak into Madison, and in the past two games they have forced 37 turnovers. The 19 takeaways against Indiana resulted in 27 points.

“I thought we had great hand activity, that was a big emphasis,” Cornhuskers coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I thought tonight was about as consistent as we’ve been for 40 minutes.”

The Huskers are back at full strength after Rienk Mast returned on Wednesday following minor knee surgery. He is one of four players averaging double figures, led by Keisei Tominaga’s 14.0 per game.

Tominaga had 28 against the Hoosiers and went for 22 in a win over Wisconsin last season. His family made the trip from Japan for the last game and Hoiberg is hoping they stick around.

“I told him they need to find a place over here. He seems to be pretty damn good when they’re in the building,” he said.

Wisconsin has also been dealing with injuries, though guards Chucky Hepburn and Kamari McGee haven’t missed any games. What has helped the Badgers navigate players with limited minutes has been their depth, with 11 players appearing in at least 10 games this season.

“Having depth is both a blessing and a curse,” Gard said, adding he wished games were longer in order for him to get more guys in.

Wisconsin is trying to start 3-0 in Big Ten play for the second year in a row, while Nebraska last had a 3-1 league record in 2016-17. The Cornhuskers are 1-1 on the road this season, losing at Minnesota and beating Kansas State, while the Badgers are 7-1 at the Kohl Center.

Nebraska will be trying for its first win over a ranked Big Ten opponent since beating Wisconsin on the road in the regular season finale in 2022.

–Field Level Media

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