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
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
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
“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
“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
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
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.