Wisconsin grinds out a 47-41 win over Cornhuskers
- Article by: ERIC OLSON
- Associated Press
- January 6, 2013 - 8:03 PM
LINCOLN, Neb. - Wisconsin's shooting has been abysmal from the field and free-throw line in its first two Big Ten games, yet the Badgers are off to a 2-0 start.
Hey, Bo Ryan's program has never been about style points.
Maybe only a true Badger could see the beauty in their grinding 47-41 victory over Nebraska on Sunday.
"That was a work of art," a smiling Jared Berggren wisecracked as he walked out of the locker room after scoring 12 of his 13 points in the second half.
Ryan Evans had 10 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, and he made no apologies for how his team's performance looked.
"Wisconsin has been doing this for a long time," he said. "We have never been a beautiful team. We had a couple years where we had a couple great scorers. For the most part we've won off of grit. Whatever it takes."
The Badgers won despite shooting 38 percent from the field and making just 3 of 13 free throws.
Wisconsin, which beat Penn State 60-51 in similar fashion three nights earlier, is shooting 38 percent from the field and 41 percent from the line in Big Ten play. Fortunately for the Badgers, their last two games were against the teams picked to finish at the bottom of the Big Ten.
Is Ryan feeling lucky to be 2-0 in the Big Ten?
"I would be lying if I told you different," he said.
The Badgers (11-4) won their fifth game in a row and held their ninth straight opponent to 60 points or fewer.
"Any time you can get a road win in the Big Ten, especially when we're shooting this poorly, you've got to feel pretty good about that because we know we can play so much better offensively," Berggren said.
The Huskers (9-6, 0-2), coming off a 70-44 loss at No. 8 Ohio State in their conference opener, have averaged just 42 points the last four meetings with the Badgers. They made only one basket in the final 6:19 Sunday.
First-year Nebraska coach Tim Miles said he felt as if his team let a big opportunity slip away.
"It's going to be tough for this team," Miles said. "To have one where you have a high-quality team come in and you have a chance to beat them and you don't, you're sick to your stomach."
The teams scuffled to a 19-19 halftime tie. Berggren, who missed all four of his first-half shots, made six in a row to start the second as the Badgers asserted themselves inside.
"On some of the early ones I was drifting away from the basket and had some pretty bad misses," Berggren said. "Teammates keep finding me in the post and just told me to keep being aggressive and I got something going."
Ryan said Berggren's emergence gave the Badgers a lift.
"I could tell the guys on the bench were like, `Thank goodness, he's starting to get into a rhythm, get a feel, and someone is putting the ball through the net,'" Ryan said.
Ray Gallegos and Dylan Talley scored 12 points apiece and Brandon Ubel added 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots for the Huskers.
Ubel hit a 3-pointer for Nebraska's only basket after Gallegos had given the Huskers a 38-37 lead with 6:19 left.
Evans gave Wisconsin the lead for good with 5:57 left when he put his shoulder into Shavon Shields on his way to the hoop, scored and got fouled. After he converted the three-point play, the Badgers were up 40-38.
Traevon Jackson beat Benny Parker one-on-one to make it a four-point game. After Evans caught Berggren's air-ball 3-pointer, he muscled up the putback to make it 44-38.
Ubel's second 3-pointer of the game cut it to three points with a minute left. Jackson's jump shot with 34 seconds left all but finished off the Huskers.
The Huskers started two freshmen, Shields and Parker, for the first time since the 2009-10 season. Shields had seven of his eight rebounds in the first half.
Mike Bruesewitz had a season-high 10 rebounds for the Badgers, and Berggren blocked three shots.
The Badgers are off until a home game Saturday against No. 11 Illinois. Between now and then, they'll surely be shooting lots of free throws in practice.
Ryan thought his eyes were deceiving him when he looked at the box score and saw his team made only 3 of 13 from the line against the Huskers.
"Is that a misprint? I thought it was at least four," he said, drawing laughs from reporters. "You can always joke when you finish up on the good side."
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