Wisconsin survived its third overtime in six games Thursday night with Nigel Hayes shooting the seventh-ranked Badgers to a 70-69 road win against Nebraska.
While Wisconsin (21-3, 10-1 Big Ten) is 3-0 in those games, it’s worrying that all three of those overtimes were forced by teams at or near the bottom of the Big Ten standings: Nebraska, Rutgers, and Minnesota. The Badgers have found a way to win all three on the road, but you can’t blame head coach Greg Gard for not being too happy Thursday.
“The effort was good, the execution has to get a lot better,” Gard said on Wisconsin radio announcer Matt Lepay’s postgame radio show. “We were able to find a way again, as hard as it is. We’re getting everybody’s best shot. We haven’t clicked on all cylinders but we continue to find a way. We need to get better and not put ourselves in those types of positions.”
Several things went wrong for the Badgers, despite the win. They shot 23 of 63 (36.5 percent) from the field. They had just nine assists against 13 turnovers. They lost the rebounding battle 50-37, a rarity for the Big Ten’s best team in rebounding margin.
“Aside from the shooting, we couldn’t take them off the glass. We had a hard time taking care of the ball, we didn’t finish in the paint like we should have,” Gard said. “So we were able to find other ways. One play ended up going our way at the end.”
"We know we have to play better. We're a marked team."
– Greg Gard
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) February 10, 2017
Here’s what else Gard had to say after the game:
On defending Tai Webster during Nebraska’s final possession. Ethan Happ blocked the shot:
“We contemplated what to do there with (Webster) knowing it was going to be in his hands. When they were able to turn the corner, he’s so good coming downhill whether you have a big on him or not, but to be able to level him off a bit and make him take a tougher shot.”
On using Nigel Hayes, who finished with a game-high 20 points:
“We were trying to go through him because he’s a little more comfortable with the ball in his hands. They didn’t send the double-team as soon, so he had the time to probe and survey the landscape. He had a lot of rest the first half only playing 7 minutes, so I knew we could probably get a little bit more out of him in the second half and he was obviously good for us.”
Gard said Happ hadn't been that bad against double teams since the Creighton game. "Something about the state of Nebraska," he said.
— Brian Rosenthal (@GBRosenthal) February 10, 2017
On D’Mitrik Trice diving for the ball:
“His football acumen comes in there. He fumbled the snap, so we knew we had to dive on it.”
On playing zone for a pair of possessions:
“I just wanted to give them a different look, maybe negate the ball screen stuff, and protect from foul trouble. I wanted to try to buy a couple minutes there … It’s still a work in progress.”
On the team’s overtime mentality:
“Not be deflated even though (Nebraska) hit the last shot (to tie the game with less than a second left in regulation). We’ve hit shots to send it to overtime, like Rutgers, so you come into overtime with a little momentum. Here, we get one hit on us, so you’ve got to make sure when we get back to that huddle, that we’re not deflated.”