Wisconsin-Illinois Preview

Wisconsin has rebounded nicely from a home loss to Illinois last

month and appears to be heading into the Big Ten tournament with a

lot of momentum.

The Illini haven’t built any since that victory.

The 15th-ranked Badgers look to win their fourth straight Sunday

when they visit Assembly Hall, trying to extend Illinois’ late

swoon.

Wisconsin (22-7, 12-5) had won 51 straight home games against

unranked Big Ten opponents before losing 63-56 to Illinois on Feb.

9. It was the fifth straight victory for the Illini (18-2, 10-7)

and moved them into a tie atop the conference with Michigan

State.

The season has since gone downhill for Illinois, which has

dropped four of five, including two straight at home for the first

time since a four-game home losing streak Feb. 2-March 6, 2008.

“The shark got one leg, now it’s got the other,” coach Bruce

Weber said following a 73-57 loss at No. 6 Ohio State on Tuesday.

“It’s pulling us under. We’ll see if we can get away.”

Wisconsin, meanwhile, has clinched a first-round bye in the

conference tournament, winning four of five since the loss to the

Illini, including three straight. Its last two victories were by a

combined 59 points, shooting 54.9 percent in a 67-40 win over Iowa

on Wednesday.

“We’re just playing good basketball,” senior Jason Bohannon

said. “We just have to take it one game at a time.”

Jon Leuer scored 18 points and was 8 of 9 from the field

Wednesday in his fourth game since missing nine with a broken

wrist. It was his highest-scoring game since suffering the

injury.

“With every game, you get more confidence and experience,” said

Leuer, second on the team with 14.6 points per game. “(The first

game back) I was working the rust off and being a little tentative.

Now I’m playing with guys and it just feels more natural and more

fluid.”

Leuer did not play when the Illini visited Madison and Wisconsin

leading scorer Trevon Hughes went 4 of 16 from the field.

The Badgers are 4-5 on the road, but all the wins came against

teams in the bottom half of the Big Ten standings.

The Illini will have to settle for a fifth-place finish after

losing their last two games. They have shot 37.7 percent from the

field over their last five.

Against the Buckeyes, Illinois was within four points at the

half but shot 32.3 percent after the break. Demetri McCamey scored

18 but went 2 of 8 from the field for six points in the second

half.

The Illini will be looking for another big game Sunday from

McCamey, who finished with 27 points against the Badgers last month

and is averaging 16.0 in six career games against them.

Illinois won its most recent game against the Badgers at

Assembly Hall but lost the previous two there when Wisconsin was

ranked. The teams could face off again in the second round of the

Big Ten tournament Friday if the Badgers are the No. 4 seed.