Thursday night at the Kohl Center - In a game of small runs, the Badgers were able to finally put away a pesky Illini team 70-60.
Wisconsin started the game outscoring Illinois 11-2 in the first 6 minutes of action. Coach Bruce Weber's team refused to give in, and after trading baskets for the next few possessions, responded with an 8-1 run of their own.
As the game wore on, the Badgers strung baskets together on a few consecutive possessions while holding the Illini scoreless for minutes at a time. Still, Illinois always managed to scratch and claw their way back within a few points time and again. Each time the Wisconsin lead was threatened, however, the Badgers were able to make another small run to keep the visitors at bay.
"It's as if I know something that somebody else doesn't, I wouldn't tell you if that was the case anyhow," coach Bo Ryan joked when asked how his team was able to successfully maintain their lead. "But we answered. We were resilient. We made plays when we had to. That's a game that's going to be very typical in the Big Ten this year."
Landry Steps Up
Another big reason for Wisconsin's success against the visiting Illini was the play of Marcus Landry. While his 11 points and five rebounds aren't numbers that would normally stand out, it was the performance behind the numbers that was so valuable. On both ends of the floor, Landry was matched up against Illinois' Brian Randle. Randle, who entered the game as the Illini's second-leading scorer, was held to a mere four points on 2-7 shooting. Perhaps more importantly on the offensive end, Landry got Randle into foul trouble, limiting him to only 21 minutes before the Illinois big man picked up his fifth.
"I think [he's] frustrated," Weber said of Randle. "Feel a little pressure, little bit tight. He got two fouls and never got going in the second half."
Stuffing the Stat Sheet
Wisconsin benefited from all-around performances from Trevon Hughes and Joe Krabbenhoft. Hughes appeared to have put his ankle injury behind him and produced one of his best performances of the season.
"It's getting a lot better," Hughes said of his ankle. "As you can see, tonight I looked a little quicker out there. But tentative? Probably over with now. I can't keep dwelling on it."
Hughes led all scorers with 22 while shooting 8-13 from the floor, including 3-for-6 from downtown. He also added five assists and six steals, and took exceptional care of the basketball turning it over only twice in 36 minutes of play.
"He found people and he also took good shots," Ryan said "his shot selection was very good too."
In addition to Hughes, Krabbenhoft is quickly being recognized as a player who can fill the stat sheet and that was no different against Illinois. In workman-like fashion, he tallied eight points, four rebounds, four assists to go along with two blocks. He also converted on all four of his free throws attempts, which came in the final three minutes as Illinois was trying to make one final run.