Illinois constrains Harris, Badgers

Junior guard leads Wisconsin in scoring but cannot overcome Illini defense

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Junior guard leads Wisconsin in scoring but cannot overcome Illini defense


Illinois talked a good game leading up its showdown with Wisconsin. Wednesday, they backed it up, handing the Badgers a 65-57 defeat.


The Illini were embarrassed, 76-56, Jan. 24 at Wisconsin and this week said they took offense to the manner in which Devin Harris scored his 30 points that game.


"When you get a guy scoring a lot of points, he's going to start running off his mouth," said sophomore guard Dee Brown, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "Devin Harris had an excellent game, but he started running his mouth and said some inappropriate things that people like me don't accept. With me, it's personal. I take it beyond basketball."


On the basketball court at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill. Wednesday night, Brown and the Illini did their talking with their defense, bottling up Harris and the Badgers. Wisconsin shot a solid 50 percent from the floor but had a tough time handling Illinois' intense half-court pressure defense and intermittent use of on-ball traps, causing 17 turnovers, the most for the Badgers this season.


Illinois' defense did a solid job containing the Badgers across the board, holding junior Mike Wilkinson to just seven points and only four shots after he contributed 24 in the game in Madison. Harris, junior forward Zach Morley and senior center Dave Mader each had success in spurts, but the Illini did a remarkable job disrupting Wisconsin's normal offensive flow.


The defensive pressure versus Harris, though, was the Illinois' most important duty.


Harris scored a team-high 16 and added seven assists but turned it over six times, also a season high. He led a second-half surge, scoring seven points in a 10-4 Badger run that drew Wisconsin within 50-49 with 5:32 left to play. Harris, though, missed two 3-pointers down the stretch as Illinois pulled away.


For most of the game, the Illini locked guard Luther Head onto Harris, though Deron Williams and Dee Brown also worked against him. What worked best for Illinois, though, was its use of occasional traps versus Wisconsin's ball screens.


After averaging 27 points in his last six outings, Harris was held to three on 1 of 3 shooting in the first half. He turned it over three times in the opening sessions and was called for two fouls late in the half.


For the game, Harris was whistled for four fouls for only the third time this season, and one game after making 16 of 18 free throws against Ohio State. He stepped to the charity stripe just four times, converting three.


Wisconsin as a team shot just eight free throws. In their last three road games, the Badgers have taken a total 23 free throw attempts. In their two most recent home games, though, they have shot 71.

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