Wisconsin is fast, just not Creighton-fast. Not on Tuesday night, anyway.
The Bluejays literally ran away with the game in the second half, pushing it to a tempo the Badgers couldn’t match and handing the No. 9 Badgers their first loss of the season, 79-67 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., as part of the Gavitt Games.
WHY: The Badgers’ bad spurts outlasted their good ones, plain and simple. They got knocked down early, which was largely self-inflicted with one turnover after another, then fell behind for good when Creighton cranked up the speed, and subsequently its lead, late in the second half. (The game was tied at 50 with little more than 9 minutes to play, then the Bluejays (2-0) went on a 13-2 run over the next two-and-a-half minutes to take control.)
WHAT IT MEANS: A big storyline surrounding the Badgers (1-1) entering the season has been their depth. And with all five starters returning, rightfully so. But Creighton exposed a giant hole under Wisconsin’s basket when forward Ethan Happ got into foul trouble in the first half. The Badgers’ interior game completely disappeared without the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year on the floor, and their perimeter shooting couldn’t make up for it. Wisconsin made just one of its final 12 shots to end the first half — including missing all 10 of its 3-point shots.
WHO STARRED: Nigel Hayes. One of the most noticeable changes in Hayes’ game from last season is his shot and his confidence in it. The senior forward connected on his first three attempts, two from beyond the arc. He finished with 16 points total on 6-of-13 shooting. He also knew when to pass on a shot for a teammate with a better one, as he added 5 assists.
Nigel goes ⬆️
Nigel ? it ⬇️‼️ pic.twitter.com/ct2ypul5ed
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) November 16, 2016
WHO STUMBLED: Happ. The sophomore showed glimpses of his famously fundamental post footwork, but that’s all they were: glimpses. He got into foul trouble early in the first half and couldn’t find a way to make much of a different for the Badgers in the second. Wisconsin depends on him not only for his points in the paint, but as a crucial part of the offense. Their half-court set is most successful when the ball comes in and out of the lane. On Tuesday night, Happ finished with just 7 points in just 25 minutes. He did grab 10 rebounds, however.
WHO WAS THERE: Jim Jackson. He didn’t have much of a choice, considering he was calling the game for FS1 and all. But for the Badgers, it’s always nice to see a familiar face on the road — even if he starred at Ohio State. Jim is father of former Wisconsin guard Traevon Jackson.
Andy North made the trip to Omaha, Neb., but that shouldn’t shock Badger fans. The two-time U.S. Open champion can be found courtside at every Wisconsin home game and most of road contests.
WHO IS NEXT: Wisconsin hosts Chicago State at the Kohl Center in Madison on Thursday. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT) and will be televised on ESPN3. You can also listen on Badger Sports Network — the Big 1070 on iheartradio.com. All affiliates can be found here.