Helping Wisconsin break a three-game skid in which it failed to score over 50 points, Brust – a native of Mundelein, Ill. - had a game-high 20 points as Wisconsin beat Illinois, 74-68, Sunday at Assembly Hall to complete a regular season sweep of the Illini for the second straight season.
The Badgers (15-7, 6-3 Big Ten) built a 15-point lead in the second half, adding to the margin with strong defensive play and exploiting a size advantage in the paint. The Fighting Illini (15-8, 2-7 Big Ten) lost for the sixth time in seven games and dropped their fifth consecutive contest with Wisconsin.
"Any win in the Big Ten on the road (is important)," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "The way this league is going now, you look at the ranked teams that we've played, I still consider Illinois a ranked team because they were a ranked team."
Wisconsin controlled much of the first half, although both teams struggled to score, each shooting 25 percent (3 of 12) in the first eight-plus minutes of the game.
Wisconsin regained form after starting center Jared Berggren picked up his second foul just 11 minutes into the contest. The Badgers went on a 19-11 run to close the half, with Brust and reserve Frank Kamisky accounting for all but two of the points.
The second half went much of the same, as the Badgers finished with 24 points in the paint and converted 28 of 42 free throws. The sophomore Kaminsky, who returned Jan. 29 against Ohio State after missing three games due to an eye injury, scored a career-high 19 points.
"You come off that kind of injury, you worry about getting hit," Ryan said of Kaminsky, who was wearing protective goggles.
Ryan said the sophomore forward struggled adjusting to the goggles in practice this week, but wore them while making 12 of 14 free throws.
"I think he got pretty used to them," Ryan said.
Scoring in double figures for the first time since January 3, Brust finished 7 of 11 from the floor, logging 38 minutes and picking his spots to assert himself on offense.
"I think it was in the flow," Ryan said of Brust's shot selection. "I think it was read and react. He got himself into some scoring opportunities. The ball still has to go through the net though. You still have to hit them even if you're open."