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Nebrasketball: Magical Run at Big Ten Tournament Ends to Badgers

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After two wins in two days, James Palmer Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr. did their best to keep their undermanned squad afloat in Chicago. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Nebraska vs Maryland David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

After two huge wins in the last two days, Nebraska has set itself up for a potential postseason berth. After hopes were all but dashed, these two wins have put the Huskers not only in the NIT, but the bubble of the NCAA Tournament. The latter doesn’t matter without a win against the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday afternoon. This will be Nebraska’s nation-leading (tied with Kansas) 20th Quadrant 1 or 2 game, which is important for resumes these days.

While the game started off with a good block from Isaiah Roby, the Badgers were not shaken as they got out to an eight to nothing lead. Roby finally got the Huskers on the board three minutes into the game. Buckets from the legendary Johnny Trueblood and steady Tanner Borchardt cut that lead to four with 15 minutes to go.

After a missed James Palmer Jr. layup, Roby put it back down after it was rolling off the rim. The refs, however, called it goaltending, even though it should not have been. A frustrated Miles got a technical when arguing with the refs, which gave the Badgers two free throws and the ball. They made both and Aleem Ford would push the lead to 13 points on a three and four-point play.

Down 21-8, Glynn Watson Jr. hit a three which was immediately followed by a Roby block. Palmer finally got on the board with a fancy layup and Roby turned a steal into an and-one dunk opportunity. He would make the free throw and Nebraska was now only down seven. Roby would cause another turnover and Trueblood’s offensive rebound led to a quick Palmer layup, Huskers down 18-23.

After trading buckets, Roby got yet another steal and sank a free throw to cut that lead to just four with eight minutes to go. Watson got himself a steal, but the Huskers couldn’t get a bucket. Brad Davison hit a three next trip down, but a Palmer steal and drive defected by Wisconsin would take us to a media timeout with six minutes left.

Six straight Badger points extended their run, a three-minute scoreless streak for the Huskers. Watson finally ended it with a three-pointer to cut the lead back to ten. After Khalil Iverson was dominating for the Badgers, Glynn Watson went on an eight-point run by himself in the final three minutes to trim the lead to five at the half, down 29-34.

During the halftime show, Andy Katz even went as far as to call Johnny Trueblood “America’s Walk-On.” The Legend is at an all-time peak. Let’s hope half number two can only help it grow.

Less than three minutes into the second half, a Roby three pulled Nebraska to within only two. After some back-and-forth for three minutes, Glynn Watson heeded the calls for hero ball and scored five straight points for the Huskers and the lead was just 43-41 with 14 minutes to go.

One thing of note over the next two minutes: the heart of this team. Throughout the losing streak this year, it looked like this team had given up. Since the Iowa game, this team has not given up. Watson, Trueblood, Palmer, Roby, Borchardt, Thor. All of them. They haven’t quit just yet. Two minutes in the middle of this game showed that. Huskers were getting steals, drawing fouls, fighting and scrapping for the ball.

They just couldn’t quite tie it, however. But right before a media timeout with 11 minutes to go, Thor hit a three to make that lead just one. And with just ten minutes to go, a Palmer drive and layup finally gave the Huskers the lead, 46-45. WHAT IS HAPPENING! It lasted a little over two minutes after Nate Reuvers banked in a three. But these Huskers will not go away.

Unfortunately, the two minutes after the Huskers took the lead, Wisconsin put up their own 7-0 run. Nebraska was shooting 1-10 during that stretch. Huskers finally scored on two Roby free throws with five and a half to go, down four. Nebraska hadn’t hit a field goal since the ten-minute mark. Badgers hit a three, but five straight from Watson yet again made it 55-53 Wisconsin with only four to go.

Yet another Badger turnover led to a Johnny Trueblood layup, Huskers only down two with two and a half minutes to go. A suffocating defensive stand got the Huskers the ball back, but Watson missed the front end of a one-and-one. Davison and Waton both missed and Wisconsin called a timeout with a minute to go.

A quick play out of the inbound saw D’Mitrick Trice hitting a three to push the lead to five. Watson couldn’t match and Davison hit two free throws. Thor made a quick layup to cut it back down to five with 34 seconds left. The final half minute was free throws and desparate threes. Unfortunately, no of it was enough.

Huskers could not capitalize on 17 Badger turnovers and four points from Ethan Happ. Credit a scrappy Huskers defense for both, but they couldn’t overcome their lack of depth and tired legs. It was a magical little run to get this far and the team should hold their heads up high after they showed so much heart in the Big Ten Tournament.

And if it is the end for Tim Miles, what a way for him to go out.

Final: Huskers 62, Badgers 66