LINCOLN, NEBRASKA-The battle goes on for Bronson Koenig, as the 6”4 Sophomore Guard looks for a road victory at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. While the atmosphere is a nightmare for road teams with an electric crowd in a fairly new arena, Koenig finds it as a home away from home. Koenig said, “My mom came to support me tonight and last year when I came here, I got to speak to some Winnebago students (Tribe in Nebraska) who had come here off the reservation.”
Although Koenig is from La Crosse, Wisconsin and wears the Wisconsin red, the support for Koenig is nationwide. Koenig has become the most notable Native American in Men’s College Basketball. Koenig said, “I look up in the stands and I see all kinds of natives everywhere I go. It really means a lot to me.”
Koenig is a proud member of the Ho-Chunk Indian Tribe and says it is all from his mother. “My mom is 100% Ho-Chunk and my dad is German, so I’m 50% Ho-Chunk.” Koenig’s popularity is gaining traction as he’s gotten more playing time. Koenig began the season averaging 19.8 minutes per game in a sixth man role, but has since moved into the starting lineup after the Rutgers game and has scored in double-figures in 7 of 8 games since.
On Tuesday, Koenig shined on the bright stage with 13 points that included two three pointers on the night. After the win though, Koenig is his own biggest critic, “I thought I could have done a lot of things better, finishing at the rim and being more aggressive, stuff like that.” The road environment did not phase Koenig though, as his Badgers walked away with a 65-55 win over Nebraska.
While the Badgers are ranked fifth in the country according to the AP Poll, Koenig is taking things one step at a time. “The Big Ten is a tough conference and were just looking to win a Big Ten Regular Season Championship, then focus on the Big Ten Conference Tournament and NCAA Tournament.”
The road to the Final Four does not get easy for Koenig and the Badgers though. Koenig said, “We have our tougher games down the stretch.” Wisconsin is currently in first place in the Big Ten and will look to stay there with seven games left in league play. The Badgers will battle in the Big Ten Tournament next month in Chicago, before the NCAA Tournament.
GAME RECAP; WISCONSIN 65, NEBRASKA 55
It what is now Big Ten country, the Cornhusker faithful did not disappoint with an electric atmosphere of 15,701 in attendance on Super Tuesday at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The 5th ranked Wisconsin Badgers (21-2, 9-1 Big Ten) came to Lincoln Tuesday, in hopes of continuing their pursuit for a Big Ten Championship and number one seed in the big dance next month. For Nebraska (13-10, 5-6) is was a chance to play spoiler against one of the nation’s best.
In the 1st half, it was all Badgers. Wisconsin shot 41% from field goal range, while dominating the boards with 23 rebounds in the 1st half. Sam Dekker led all scorers in the 1st with 13 points. Other notable scorers included, Bronson Koenig with 6 points (who made the only three point of the 1st half for Wisconsin) and National Player of the Year candidate Frank Kaminsky with 4 points.
It was a very poor performance from Nebraska in the 1st half. The Cornhuskers at the 6:21 mark shot 16% from the field, but improved that number to 21% by halftime. Nebraska also failed to get to the free throw line in the 1st, which led to only 13 points in the 1st half. Terran Petteway led Nebraska in scoring with 5 points, followed by Shavon Shields with 4 points. Nebraska trailed the Badgers at the half 27-13.
In the 2nd half, Nebraska responded with two major runs (6-0 & 8-0) and continued to battle. The Cornhuskers field goal percentage in the 2nd was a dramatic improvement of 47%. While the offense for Nebraska struggled in the first, the Cornhuskers outscored Wisconsin in the 2ndwith 42 points.
Guard Terran Petteway led Nebraska in scoring with 21 points, which included four threes for the night. Nebraska also had one other player in double-figures, Shavon Shields with 12 points. Other contributors included Tai Webster with 7 points, Leslee Smith with 6 points and Benny Parker with 4 points.
In the 2nd half, Wisconsin’s offense only scored six total field goals, but managed to score 38 points in the half. The Badgers managed to get to the charity stripe 31 times, compared to Nebraska’s 10 free throws shot. The Badgers were 24/31 from the line for the game, while the Cornhuskers were just 7/10 from the line for the night.
The Badgers shot 39% for the game from the field, but had a lot of points go around. Sam Dekker led Wisconsin in scoring with 21 points, followed by Frank Kaminsky and Bronson Koenig who each had 13 points. Nigel Hayes played a key factor for Wisconsin with 8 points of his own.
After the game Kaminsky said, “My job was to play defense and get rebounds. As a team, we did a good job of that tonight.” The Badgers brought in 38 rebounds as team, including 8 rebounds from Kaminsky. Bronson Koenig after the win said, “We’ve been trying to put together a complete game and we did that tonight, kind of. This is a tough place to play and it was a good road win.”
With the loss, Nebraska falls to 13-11 overall and 5-7 in the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers will be on the road their next two games, as they take on Purdue on Sunday and Maryland next Tuesday. Both games can be seen on the Big Ten Network.
After the win, Wisconsin looks to stay the course as they go home Sunday to take on Illinois, before a road trip to Happy Valley against Penn State. The Illinois game on Sunday can been seen on CBS, while the Penn State will be live on the Big Ten Network. Wisconsin moves ahead to 22-2 overall and 10-1 in the Big Ten Conference.
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in NDNSport.com. Used with permission. All rights reserved.