The Wisconsin Badgers (14-6, 8-5) lose an ugly game, 75-60, in Champaign to the Illinois Fighting Illini (13-5, 9-3). Wisconsin is now 0-3 against the top three teams in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin has now lost three of the last five games and are 4-4 in the last eight games.
It was an ugly first half on both ends of the court, but especially offensively, that saw the Badgers shoot 30 percent overall from the field and 0-for-9 from 3-point range. UW was also outrebounded 28-10 in the first half.
The second half was a little better shooting 53.3 percent, but for the game UW was 25-for-60 (41.7%) from the field, 4-of-24 (16.7%) and 6-of-11 (54.5%) from the free throw line. UW also only finished with 6 assists (not good!).
The Badgers finished with 11 turnovers, the fifth straight game with double digit turnovers for UW. Wisconsin was also outrebounded 46-19 and 11-2 on the offensive boards. Illinois outscored UW, 38-28, in the paint. To be clear, those numbers are not a recipe for success, especially given the poor offensive shooting in the first half.
Illinois shot 28-of-53 (52.8%) from the field, 5-of-16 (31.2%) from 3-point range and 14-of-21 (66.7%) from the free throw line to go along with 16 assists, but they did have 18 turnovers.
Kofi Cockburn led Illinois with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Ayo Dosunmu finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists, the third triple-double in Illinois program history.
The blueprint for beating Wisconsin this year is pretty simple — attack the paint. The Badgers have proven time and time again since late December that they can’t fix the problem.
Micah Potter was not good today, and quite frankly has been struggling for a few weeks now. After UW cut it to a 7-point game in the second half: Potter commits a weak foul after missing a rebound. Potter turnover. Potter misses his man in paint and gives up dunk. Potter turnover.
That is not to mention that his ball screen defense is brutal.
D’Mitrik Trice led UW with 22 points on 9-of-18 shooing (2-of-7 from 3) and 2-of-2 at the free throw line. Nate Reuvers finished with 11 points on 5-of-10 from the field and 1-of-4 from 3-point range.
Greg Gard said the most perplexing thing of the first half was how poorly UW shot the ball: “The way we shot it offensively, we almost had to pitch a perfect game. To counter the game with Cockburn, we had to hit some outside shots and we weren’t able to do that.”
Gard went on to talk about the rebounding differential: “It’s 46-19 because we missed so many shots.”
“Guys want to know what life is like at that (NBA) level. They saw it (with Ayo and Kofi), those two guys are at another level,” Gard said.
The Wisconsin Badgers will travel to Lincoln to play the Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-8, 0-5) on Thursday, February 11. Tip-off is set for 4:00 PM (Central Time) and will be televised on ESPN2.