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Preview: Nebraska at Wisconsin

SportsDirectInc.

Wisconsin refused to use its injury woes as an excuse for a rare second-half collapse in its last game.

After learning it will be without point guard Traevon Jackson for six weeks due to a broken foot, the sixth-ranked Badgers hope to get a lift from the return of All-American candidate Frank Kaminsky on Thursday when they host Nebraska.

Wisconsin led Rutgers by 12 at halftime in Sunday’s 67-62 loss before allowing the lowest-scoring team in the Big Ten to post 44 second-half points.

“What happened is not the (result) of (Jackson’s) absence or Frank not being able to play; that is on the guys that played. We have to take accountability for what we let happen,” Badgers forward Nigel Hayes told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Even with Kaminsky back from his one-game absence due to a concussion, Wisconsin figures to have its hands full against the stingy defense of the Cornhuskers, who have held each of their last two opponents to fewer than 50 points. After getting off to its fourth 0-2 start in as many years as a member of the Big Ten, Nebraska has won two straight following Sunday’s 53-43 home victory over Illinois.

TV: 8 p.m., ESPN2

About Nebraska (10-6, 2-2 Big Ten)

The Cornhuskers’ consecutive wins have coincided with the returns of burly forwards Leslee Smith and Moses Abraham, each of whom has allowed coach Tim Miles to expand his bench and give starter David Rivers some rest.

Nebraska has held its last two opponents (Rutgers and Illinois) to 30.8 percent shooting from the floor – including 19 percent beyond the arc.

The Cornhuskers’ defense has overshadowed their lack of aggressiveness on offense over that same time, going a combined 11-for-18 from the foul line in the two wins – a stunningly low number for a team has the second- and fifth-leading scorers in the conference in Terran Petteway (18.9) and Shavon Shields (17.1).

About Wisconsin (15-2, 3-1)

Kaminsky, who leads the Badgers in scoring (16.9), rebounds (8.2), blocks (1.9) and steals (1.2), was perhaps missed most defensively as Rutgers – the league’s worst-shooting team – shot 66.7 percent during their second-half rally.

Sophomore Bronson Koenig (4.9 points, 2.1 assists) scored 12 points in a career-high 31 minutes Sunday and will be asked to run the offense with Jackson sidelined.

“I'm going to have to start being more vocal as a leader. I think that is one area I really need to start working on, but I'm confident that I'll step into that role,” Koenig told the Journal-Sentinel.

Tip-ins

1. Kaminsky's absence marked the first time in 77 games that a Badgers' starter missed a game because of an injury.

2. Nebraska held Illinois to 27.3 percent from the field – the lowest mark allowed in three seasons under Miles.

3. Wisconsin is 99-14 at home in Big Ten play under coach Bo Ryan.

PREDICTION: Wisconsin 66, Nebraska 53

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