Wisconsin might be the preseason Big Ten favorite, but it's going to have to play much better than it did Tuesday night if it wants to win the conference for real.
The ninth-ranked Badgers suffered their first loss of the season, missing 28 3-point attempts and turning the ball over 16 times en route to a 79-67 loss to Creighton in Omaha.
It was a three-point game at halftime and stayed tight the majority of the way through the second half. But Creighton pulled away from a 50-50 tie with a 13-2 run that built a double-digit lead with six and a half minutes to go. The lead hit double digits again with under three minutes to play before an Ethan Happ three-point play and a Bronson Koenig triple sandwiched around a split pair of free throws by the Bluejays made it just a five-point gap with a minute and a half to play.
But Creighton avoided the fate of conferencemate Georgetown — which blew its own lead in stunning fashion earlier Tuesday against Maryland — by knocking down six of eight free-throw tries over a 46-second span to keep Wisconsin at bay. The Badgers didn't score after a Zak Showalter tip-in made it a six-point game with 46 seconds left, the Bluejays putting in the game's final six points to march to a double-digit victory.
Wisconsin was an eyebrow-raising 11-for-39 from 3-point range, with stars Koenig and Nigel Hayes missing 10 and six deep balls, respectively. The duo finished with team-high scoring outputs, Koenig finishing with 21 points and Hayes with 16, but Koenig was 8-for-19 from the field and Hayes was 6-for-13. Three Badgers — Koenig, Ethan Happ and Vitto Brown — had four turnovers apiece.
While Wisconsin struggled shooting the ball and hanging on to it, Creighton was the opposite, shooting a sparkling 50 percent on the game — including 53.8 percent in the second half — and turning the ball over just seven times. Four Bluejays were in double figures scoring, led by the 18 points of Khyri Thomas, who was a perfect 3-for-3 from 3-point range and made seven of 11 free-throw attempts.
Creighton dominated at the free-throw line, going 15-for-22, while Wisconsin was just 4-for-5 from the stripe. The Bluejays also outscored the Badgers in the paint by a wide margin, 32-20, doubled them up in points off turnovers, 26-13, and had 13 fast-break points compared to zero for Wisconsin.
The Badgers are 1-1 after the defeat.