Preview: No.16 Illinois at No.20 Wisconsin

Not only is No.20 Wisconsin looking to wash the bad taste out of its mouth over Tuesday's Michigan State meltdown, the Badgers will have revenge on their minds against No.16 Illinois, the team that gave them their first conference loss Jan.2

No.16 Illinois (13-4, 3-1 Big Ten) vs. Wisconsin (12-4, 2-2vBig Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, January 15, at 2 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,230)

Television - Big Ten Network (Brian Anderson and Shon Morrie)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Illinois Leads 110-75 (UW leads 52-39 in Madison)

Last Meeting - Illinois won, 69-61, on Jan. 2, 2011 in Champaign, Ill.

Wisconsin Probable Starters

11 Jordan Taylor (Junior Guard, 16.7 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Senior Forward, 4.0 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Senior Forward, 18.8 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Junior Guard, 2.4 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Senior Forward, 8.9 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Wquinton Smith (Senior Guard, 0.5 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (Sophomore Forward, 3.3 ppg)

15 Brett Valentyn (Senior Guard, 1.5 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Freshman Guard, 5.6 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Sophomore Forward, 5.0 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Sophomore Forward, 3.8 ppg)

Illinois Probable Starters

1 D.J. Richardson (Sophomore Guard, 11.0 ppg)

24 Mike Davis (Senior Forward, 11.0 ppg)

30 Bill Cole (Senior Forward, 5.8 ppg)

32 Demetri McCamey (Senior Guard, 15.8 ppg)

54 Mike Tisdale (Senior Center, 10.3 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Brandon Paul (Sophomore Guard, 7.7 ppg)

12 Meyers Leonard (Freshman Center, 3.1 ppg)

22 Jereme Richmond (Freshman Guard, 7.5 ppg)

42 Tyler Griffey (Sophomore Forward, 2.1 ppg)

Last Time Out

No.20 Wisconsin led by 12 points in the first half and nine points with 2 minutes, 39 seconds remaining, but uncharacteristic carelessness and poor shooting allowed Michigan State to claw back into the game, a game it eventually took control of in overtime to win 64-61 in front of 14,797 rowdy fans at the Breslin Center Tuesday.

The pride of Wisconsin (12-4, 2-2 Big Ten) the last few seasons has been taking care of the basketball. Leading the nation for the second straight season in fewest turnovers per game (8.1 per game), Wisconsin had turned the ball over just 13 times in its first three conference games, an average of 4.3 per contest.

They nearly equaled that average over the final minute.

The Badgers came up on empty on their final five possessions of the game, allowing the Spartans to close the game on a 9-0 run to force overtime. Worse yet, the empty possessions were the result of poor ball handling.

It started with Leuer, who had an all-points bulletin filed after going missing in the second half, being stripped at midcourt that led to Keith Appling's uncontested dunk to cut the lead to 53-50.

On the ensuing possession, Rob Wilson, who got his first significant minutes this season in a close contest, bobbled a perfectly clean inbounds pass from Jarmusz out of bounds, and Milwaukee-native Korie Lucious hit a three-pointer from the elbow, his only bucket, to tie the game.

Nankivil had a monster performance with 17 points, 5-for-6 from three-point range, four rebounds and a team-best three blocks and three steals, but could only do so much when it came to Spartans junior Draymond Green.

With Michigan State (11-5, 3-1) having all the momentum and carrying it into overtime, Green scored the Spartans first eight points in overtime, including a free throw that put the Spartans ahead 61-60 with 1:16 left, as he finished with a career-high 26 points.

Just like at the end of regulation, Wisconsin missed its chances to retake control of the game. Taylor missed UW's first free throw at 58 seconds in overtime, a result that left the game tied at 61 instead of giving the Badgers a one-point advantage.

One the very next possession, Nankivil picked up his fifth foul, forcing Wilson to check back in. After Lucas went 1-for-2 from the line to put the Spartans back in front, Taylor missed a step back two pointer off the right corner of the iron. Lucas grabbed the rebound, was fouled, made both foul shots and Taylor's hail-mary heave from midcourt fell short.

Last Meeting

McCamey scored 21 points, including making all 11 of his free throw attempts. He had 12 points over the game's final 7 minutes that slowly buried the Badgers.

Mike Davis and another senior, Bill Cole, added 11 points each for the Illini (12-3, 2-0 Big Ten). Davis had 14 rebounds to help them outrebound Wisconsin 34-25.

The Illini outshot the Badgers 66.7 percent to 42.9, and held Wisconsin to 28 percent shooting in the second half.

Yet Wisconsin hung around, and pulled within 54-49 with 6:34 to play on a 3-pointer by Tim Jarmusz.

"We go on a run, they call a timeout, they walk calmly to the bench,'' and come out with a play that delivers points, Weber said. "You're not going to put a Bo Ryan team away."

The Wisconsin coach felt much the same way in the game's final minutes, like a comeback could be just a shot or two away.

"As bad as we were shooting the ball, those last (few) minutes, I felt like we had a chance," Ryan said.

Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer led Wisconsin with 19 points each, and both nailed key shots late.

That left it to McCamey to methodically finish off the game.

He hit a 3 with 5:15 to play, pulling up at the line and firing as he led the Illini up the court, never looking for a passing option before he drained the shot that made it 59-49.

Series Notes:

Wisconsin has won seven of the last 11 meetings with Illinois. Head coach Bo Ryan is 11-11 all-time vs. the Illini.

Reaching 60 points has been an incredible indicator in this series. The first team to score 60 points is 18-1 over the last 10 seasons. The only time a team lost when reaching 60 first was Wisconsin's 71-64 comeback win on Jan. 20, 2007 (Illinois led 60-57 with 5:07 left).

Wisconsin has won 30 of its last 31 games at the Kohl Center, with Illinois taking credit for the only defeat. The Illini were the only team to beat the Badgers at the Kohl Center a year ago with 63-56 win on Feb. 9. That snapped an 18-game home streak and UW has won 12 in a row since.

With their win last season, the Illini became the ONLY unranked Big Ten team to win at the Kohl Center in the Bo Ryan era. Ryan's teams are 56-1 at home vs. Big Ten teams not ranked in the AP poll.

Illinois (3), Purdue (2) and Minnesota (1) are the only Big Ten teams that have won games at the Kohl Center in the Bo Ryan era.

The Badgers' roster has three players from the state of Illinois: Ben Brust (Hawthorn Woods), Duje Dukan (Deerfi eld) and Dan Fahey (Chicago).

Illinois Notes:

Illinois ranks 13th in the NCAA in field goal percentage (.488) and third in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (.434) this season. In Big Ten play, the Illini are shooting an impressive 58.7 percent, including 58.3 percent from behind the arc. And in the first half of Big Ten games, the Illini have combined to shoot 63.9 percent from the field and 68.8 percent from 3-point range.

Illinois' 69 points marked the highest scoring total against Wisconsin this season. The Badgers entered the game ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 54.5 points per game.

The Illini bench has outscored the opposing bench in 13 of 17 games this season. The Illini reserves are averaging 21.6 points per game, outscoring the opponents' reserves by an average of 7.0 points per contest. Turn to page 34 for a game-by-game look at bench scoring for Illinois and its opponents.

Wisconsin Notes:

Wisconsin leads the Big Ten and ranks sixth in the nation allowing 55.8 points per game. The Badgers trail only Stephen F. Austin (53.1), Fairfield (53.9), Nebraska (55.0), Cincinnati (55.6) and Texas A&M (55.7). Ohio State (56.6) is the Big Ten's second-stingiest defense.

Wisconsin is one of two Big Ten teams (with Purdue) that has not allowed an opponent to reach 70 points in a game this season. Only four teams scored 70 or more in a game against UW last season. Under Bo Ryan, the Badgers are 213-49 (.813) when limiting opponents to fewer than 70 points.

Wisconsin is 1-1 this year against foes ranked in the AP poll, beating No. 13 Minnesota, 68-60 on Dec. 28, and dropping a 69-61 decision at No. 25 Illinois on Jan. 2. Last season, Wisconsin was 5-2 vs. ranked opponents, going 4-0 at home. Overall, UW has won its last seven home contests vs. ranked teams.

As a team, Wisconsin ranks second in the nation, shooting 81.0 percent from the free throw line. Harvard owns the top NCAA mark at 81.6. Michigan (73.1) is a distant second in the Big Ten.

Prediction

It's become increasing apparent that Wisconsin can't rely on any other players to be consistently productive in the scoring department than senior Jon Leuer and junior Jordan Taylor. Luckily, both have had career success against Illinois.

Leuer has had big games in each of his last four appearances vs. Illinois, averaging 17.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 apg and 0.8 blocks per game over that stretch. Those averages include his 15-point game earlier this season and a 20-point outing in 2010.

Taylor posted 19 points and 5 assists vs. Illinois earlier this season. He also had a 20-pt, 8-reb, 3-ast game vs. the Illini in 2010. In his last three games vs. Illinois, Taylor is averaging 15.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg and has 11 assists with zero turnovers.

The key for the Badgers Saturday afternoon is McCamey-Tisdale. Can the Badgers contain that duo that killed Wisconsin at the Kohl Center last season and in Illinois two weeks ago?

I think Wisconsin fans are going to see an angry and highly motivated Taylor, who put a lot of heat on himself for the loss at East Lansing. Leuer was the same way after he disappeared in the second half. Illinois has somehow found success in Madison, but I think Wisconsin rebounds with a eight-point win.

Worgull's Record: 15-1

Points off Prediction: 103 (6.4 per game)


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