Sometimes, even when you play your best, your opponent is really, really, really good. The Huskers did everything possible they could do in the first half to stay in the game. They played good defense, they rebounded well, their best player had as good a half as you could ask for and when the clock hit :00 to end the first half, they still found Wisconsin up by 10. TEN. The Huskers had probably played their best half of the year and they were simply outclassed as the Badgers knocked off NU, 70-55.
Many didn't give the Huskers much of an opportunity to win this one in the first place, though Wisconsin was without their starting point guard, Traevon Jackson who is out at least six weeks after breaking his hand bad enough to require surgery and the Badges were still 17 point favorites. If it weren't for a Tarin Smith lay-up in the final seconds, Vegas had it pegged.
For much of the first half, it looked like Terran Petteway would do the impossible: beat the Badgers by himself. Petteway put on a show in the first 20 minutes. He was Mr. Do-it-all for the Huskers, who saw their other stalwart, Shavon Shields, find himself in foul trouble fairly quickly. Petteway was able to get to the rim and score. He hit jumpers, fade-away's, 3's. Just about any way you could think to score, he did it. The problem was, he as the only one who was scoring. When the Huskers faced Creighton in December, Jays head coach Greg McDermott said their strategy was to let Petteway get his, shut down Shields and let someone else beat them. Wisconsin did the same, and the Huskers weren't able to do it.
The reality is that the Kohl's Center is a very difficult place to win. The Badgers just don't lose there, especially when you're as talented as Wisconsin is. All-American Frank Kaminsky led the charge tonight, doing roughly whatever he wanted. He led the Badgers in scoring with 20 points including 4/5 from beyond the arc. Wisconsin as a team hit on 11/21 from 3 point territory. When they shoot that well, it's going to be very, very difficult to beat them, regardless of venue. Wisconsin had five players reach double figures, the Huskers only had Petteway.
Petteway finds himself three points shy of 1,000 points for his career. If you want to find a silver lining from this win, it is that he'll get it at home, where he can celebrate it with the home fans. The next opportunity for him to do that comes Tuesday evening when the Minnesota Gophers visit Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Gophers have yet to find the win column in conference play. They'll play Rutgers over the weekend, and could come to Lincoln with their season in the balance. Tip-off for Nebraska vs. Minnesota will be at 7:30 on BTN.