Apparently, no one told the referees.
Now, this could be checked off as two aggressive teams attacking the hoop with untold vigor. Or, more likely, the officials called a few too many touch fouls at the start of the second half and had to follow the precedent they set for themselves to the bitter — and agonizingly slow — end.
Illinois guard Demetri McCamey and Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor took advantage of the zebras abrasive nature to any type of contact, and repeatedly forced their way into defenders and forced the refs to call foul after foul. McCamey shot 21 free throws — one short of the record for a UW opponent — and made 17. Taylor took 18 trips to the line and connected on 16.
The 36 free throw attempts and 30 makes were a Kohl Center record for an opponent.
While coach Bo Ryan nearly stamped and shouted and sarcastically clapped his way into a heart attack, we was a tad more kind after the game in his evaluation of the officiating.
"I think if that was a dance, they would have called it off," said Ryan. "There was absolutely no rhythm. If that was the Gong Show, they would have hooked us all. There would be nobody left. Players, coaches, whew. But I told the official I really wouldn't want that job. I think he thought I was being funny, but I was being honest."
He air-balled it.
He was presented with a similar opportunity at the end of the first half against Illinois. This time he connected.
With time winding down in the first period and Wisconsin trailing by one, Taylor drove and drew Jarmusz defender away, leaving the senior with another wide-open three. After he made it, the bench exploded and the Badgers were able to run off the court with the lead and momentum going into the break.
"It was huge, it was huge," Ryan exclaimed. "And coming off Tuesday's game where it was a little miscalculation, and to hit that one, with the clock winding down … that was big."
UW rode the momentum early in the second half, jumping out to a 13-2 run that made all the difference in the game. With Illinois trailing by double-digits for much of the second half, Wisconsin was able to slow the game down and run some offense — or as Leuer likes to say, "cut them to death."
"The run was a difference maker," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "Now you are chasing the remainder of the game instead of seeing if you can keep it close and find a way to beat them at the end."