Badgers: Tyler Wahl still battling ankle injury, status for Nebraska game uncertain

Wisconsin could be without Tyler Wahl for a second straight game when the Badgers face Nebraska on Thursday night.

The junior forward suffered an ankle injury last Tuesday in a win at Northwestern. He was able to finish that game, but then missed Wisconsin’s loss Friday against Michigan State. Wahl hasn’t practiced this week but coach Greg Gard believes he is making progress.

“He’s done a little more each day, but we don’t know yet where it’ll be yet on Thursday,” Gard said. “We’ll see how he feels the next day from what he’s done the previous day.

“We’ve got a couple days here to help him continue to get better.”

Wahl’s absence was felt on both ends of the court against the Spartans. The Badgers struggled to score in the paint and had no one to match up with Malik Hall on the defensive end. What Wahl provides just can’t be duplicated with what Wisconsin has in its front court right now.

“You look at what Tyler gives us, he brings a lot to the table,” Gard said. “Arguably our best low post player offensively, arguably our best defensive player in the low post, the versatility he brings, he can guard one through four or five, he could get you a double double any night and he’s been playing so well. That’s the thing, you are not going to replace that. You are not going to put Tyler’s experience of three years into somebody that’s got a year or less experience.”

Gard worked sophomores Ben Carlson and Carter Gilmore in Wahl’s place and the results were mixed at best. Both struggled in the first half against Michigan State, though Carlson did provide some solid minutes in the second. The Minnesota native is still trying to catch up after missing most of his freshman season with a back injury and then dealing with an illness and COVID-19 this season.

“Ben’s practice pretty well the last couple days. Hopefully, maybe this timeout for Tyler, so to speak, as he gets healthy, has been helping Ben because he’s gotten a higher volume of reps,” Gard said. “I thought he did some good things in the game Friday night. He’s got a long ways to go, but I think the potential is there for Ben to become a really good player.”

Wisconsin and Nebraska are scheduled to tip at 4 p.m. CT on Thursday in Lincoln.