Coach Bo Ryan's Badgers have been known for being near impenetrable at the Kohl Center, but for whatever reason this year, UW continues to look like a team quite comfortable with playing – and winning – in opposing gyms.
The No. 11-ranked Badgers (22-4, 12-2 Big Ten) improved their Big Ten-best road record to 8-2 with a solid 71-57 win over Illinois at Assembly Hall on Wednesday evening.
"We're just trying to bring our best game every night, whether it's at home or on the road," UW guard Jason Bohannon said. "Illinois is always a tough place to play, and for us to get a lead down the stretch and not have to play a close game, that was a big step for us."
Wisconsin's duo of sophomore guards was terrific. Trevon Hughes hit some tough shots in the second half to break out of his mini-scoring slump with 18 points, his highest total since Feb. 3.
And Bohannon was spectacular off the bench again, scoring 15 points and going 5-for-5 from the line. He has now hit 33 consecutive free throws dating to Jan. 19, two short of the school record (35) set by Wes Matthews in 1980.
"I'm just out there shooting them like I'm in the backyard," Bohannon said.
Wisconsin has had its fair share of hot starts on the road this season, but took a little more time to heat up at Illinois. After UW scored just seven points in the game's first eight minutes, Bohannon was fouled on a three-point attempt and hit all three foul shots, followed by treys for guard Michael Flowers and Hughes to spark the Badgers on a 9-0 run and a six-point lead.
UW did come out hot in the second half, reeling off an 11-5 run to take a 45-30 lead. Illinois freshman guard Demetri McCamey scored all of the Illini's points during a 7-2 run to cut the lead to nine, but a Marcus Landry three-pointer with 4:27 left quieted the Assembly Hall crowd of 16,618. The Illini never got within single digits after that.
"I think in the second half, we really forced them into a lot of turnovers and kept them out of the post," said Landry, who scored 17 points. "We made some adjustments that worked out in our favor."
Bohannon, Landry and senior guard Michael Flowers each nailed two three-pointers and Hughes added another as the Badgers shot 50 percent from beyond the arc (7-for-14). UW was also 18-of-24 from the line (75 percent).
"It was a really big deal for us, being able to hit those shots," Bohannon said. "Our team is really moving the ball around well right now, which is going to help us down the stretch."
Wisconsin had 11 assists and just eight turnovers, while the Illini didn't take care of the ball (six assists and 20 giveaways).
The Badgers, now tied with Purdue for first-place in the conference standings, take their show on the road once again this Sunday at Ohio State.