Ben Brust admitted he didn't crash the offensive boards hard when teammate Sam Dekker had the ball in his hands. He had good reason.
"Every time Sam had the ball, I ran back because I knew it was going in," Brust said after Dekker matched his career high with 19 points Tuesday night to lead No. 17 Wisconsin to a 77-46 victory over Nebraska.
The freshman came off the bench to shoot 5 of 6 from the field, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range, and helped set the tone early as the Badgers (20-8, 11-4 Big Ten) put on an offensive show and Nebraska (13-15, 4-11) struggled badly.
It was Dekker's fifth straight game in double figures, and he attributed his run to a growing confidence in his offensive game, as well as having won the confidence of his teammates.
"They don't mind when I put up a bad shot once in a while because they know I have the skill and the talent to make that and I'm going to work hard for these guys," Dekker said.
Wisconsin took control of the game early with a barrage of 3-pointers and then cruised to the blowout as Nebraska's offense disappeared.
The Badgers opened the game 8 for 11 from behind the arc, and five came in a spurt that turned a 10-8 deficit into a 35-14 lead. Dekker accounted for 11 points in the 27-4 run, including three 3s.
Nebraska cut the lead to 14 points on a quick 7-0 run, but the Badgers finished the half on a 9-2 spurt to lead 44-23.
The Badgers were a model of efficiency in the first half with 13 assists on 16 field goals as they shot better than 59 percent from the field, tied for their best opening half in conference play. They finished with 19 assists on 27 field goals while shooting almost 51 percent.
"Just look at the number of assists to the baskets scored, and you know we were moving the ball," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "For us to be successful offensively, I've said this before, we need to be able to make the extra pass."
Nebraska, meanwhile, made just one of its first 18 shots from the field to open the second half, scoring three points over a more than 11-minute stretch. That allowed the Badgers to push their lead to 64-26 with just over 8 minutes to go.
The Cornhuskers shot 33 percent for the game and had just six assists to 10 turnovers.
"We were the "Bad News Bears" for most of the second half," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said, referencing the movie that came out in 1976. "I told the guys that, and I forgot they don't even know who the "Bad News Bears" are."
Ryan Evans added 14 points and Brust had 13 for the Badgers, while Dylan Talley had 21 points and eight rebounds for the Cornhuskers and Brandon Ubel added 10 points.
Things went so well for Wisconsin offensively that even Evans had a good game from the free throw line. Coming in shooting less than 41 percent from the stripe, Evans unveiled a new apprDoach, taking one step back from the line and taking a jump shot. While unusual, it worked as Evans hit both free throws.
Jared Berggren finished with four blocks to make him Wisconsin's all-time leader at 126. He came into the game trailing Rashard Griffith (124) by two.
Ryan said one of the most impressive things about Berggren's block record is that he doesn't commit a lot of fouls to go with them. He committed none Tuesday night and averages almost 1.6 a game.
"It's not the blocks, it's the changes of shots and the intimidation and fact that he's there," Ryan said. "He doesn't intimidate because he's got a bad haircut. He doesn't intimidate because he looks mean. He doesn't intimidate because he's got 900 tattoos. He intimidates by his presence and his timing. It's not just the blocks."
Wisconsin's win, coupled with No. 1 Indiana's loss to Minnesota, put the Badgers one game back in the Big Ten race with three games to play for both teams.