Wisconsin hopes to have one of its key players back when the 11th-ranked Badgers travel to Lincoln, Neb., on Thursday.
The Cornhuskers simply are hoping to play.
The matchup between Wisconsin (15-3, 6-2 Big Ten) and Nebraska (6-13, 0-8), originally scheduled for Tuesday, was moved to Thursday. Nebraska was scheduled to host Ohio State last Saturday, but that game was postponed due to health and safety protocol within the Huskers’ program.
The extra days might help Wisconsin forward Tyler Wahl, who did not play in an 86-74 home loss to then-No.14 Michigan State on Friday because of an ankle injury suffered in the previous game, an 82-76 victory against Northwestern on Jan. 18.
Wahl, third on the Badgers in scoring at 11.0 points per game and second in rebounding at 5.7, averaged 15.3 ppg and 6.6 rpg during Wisconsin’s seven-game winning streak that was snapped by the Spartans.
“Obviously, he’s important to us,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “But we have to have other guys step up, and specifically defensively.”
Without Wahl, the Badgers were outrebounded 39-20 by Michigan State. Wisconsin’s reserves were outscored 43-7.
“Regardless of outcome, you’ve heard me say it before, we need more out of the bench on both ends of the floor,” Gard said. “And more means continue to get better and be able to help whether we have somebody out or not out.”
Johnny Davis, who is fifth in the nation in scoring at 22.2 ppg, scored 25 against Michigan State but was 8-for-20 from the field. He was 3-for-13 in the first half, when the Spartans built a 42-26 lead.
Brad Davison averages 15.4 points a game and leads the team in 3-pointers with 47. Freshman point guard Chucky Hepburn (7.1 ppg) is from Omaha, Neb.
Wisconsin, which rallied from 22 points down to beat Indiana on Dec. 8, has four double-digit comebacks this season, including three second-half comebacks of 10 or more points.
Nebraska has not played since a 78-71 home loss to Indiana on Jan. 17. The Huskers have lost six straight and 11 of their last 12.
Freshman guard Bryce McGowens leads the Cornhuskers with 15.7 ppg, followed by Alonzo Verge Jr. with 14.3. Junior guard Trey McGowens, out since mid-November with a broken bone in his right foot that required surgery, returned against Indiana and scored seven points in 21 minutes off the bench.
“Having Trey out there was a great lift,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You see how much better we are with his intensity, with his leadership, with his passion on the defensive end of the floor.”
Trey McGowens, who transferred to Nebraska after two seasons at Pitt, started all 27 games last season, averaging 10.7 points and 2.3 assists.
C.J. Wilker is averaging 9.3 points off the bench during the last six games.
Nebraska has struggled on the boards; the Cornhuskers are being outrebounded by an average of nine per game. The Huskers force an average of 15.3 turnovers per game, but Wisconsin is tied for first in the country for fewest turnovers at 8.4.
Wisconsin, off to its best start since 2014-15, has won six straight against Nebraska, including 61-48 last season at Lincoln.
–Field Level Media