Only regulation was needed as Illinois (17-3 overall, 5-2 Big Ten) defeated Wisconsin (12-7, 3-4) 64-57, sending the Badgers into a four game losing streak, their first since 2006 and the first time they've lost four straight conference games since 1998.
Demetri McCarney scored a game-high 25 points to lead the Fighting Illini, while Joe Krabbenhoft scored a career-high 16 points to pace the Badgers. Krabbenhoft also notched his eighth career double-double, as he also hauled in 12 rebounds.
Illinois wasted no time grabbing the lead. After the second media timeout of the first half, the Illini went on an 11-2 run to push the score to 20-14 and went into halftime with a 32-25 cushion.
And the Illini poured it on to start the second half, too, as they would lead by as many as 15 points. However, the Badgers quickly bounced back.
"A couple times I thought in the game, we had a chance to maybe knock them out," Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said. "But to their credit, they didn't quit. They kept fighting, they kept making plays."
After going down 45-30 at the 14:11 mark in the second half, Marcus Landry took matters into his own hands. Landry scored on three straight possessions to help the Badgers get back into a groove offensively. Then, it was Trevon Hughes' turn, as the junior guard scored on the next three possessions to cut the Illini lead to as little as nine.
Landry and Hughes each finished with 13 points.
But it wasn't until the final minute where the Badgers finally made things interesting. Krabbenhoft hit a three-pointer with 52 seconds remaining to cut the score to 61-55.
A turnover by Trent Meachem on the inbounds gave the Badgers a chance to make it a one- or two-possession game. However, they simply weren't able to connect on some clutch shots, despite finding some good looks down the stretch.
"You either get to the rim or get the 3," said UW coach Bo Ryan, who received a technical foul for the second straight game. "We needed to attack the rim and if you see the rim protected, then you got to look to kick, look to penetrate and kick to 3s. Oh, we some looks. Would I want those shots? Yeah, I'd take them."
In the end, it was too little, too late for the Badgers to even push the game into overtime as they had dug themselves too big of a hole to climb out of.
"We missed some shots that we got to make in order to win games," Krabbenhoft said. "We took care of the ball. I thought we did a pretty good job on the defensive end with some lapses, but we just lost a game, they were better."
Making shots turned out to be Wisconsin's problem against Illinois. The Badgers only shot 35.6 percent from the field well the Illini connect on 50 percent of their field goals. In spite of that, the Badgers will try to take some positives out of being able to still rally at the end and show their toughness.
And while the Badgers aren't trying to focus on the negatives of their current losing streak, they certainly want to do everything they can to put a stop to it.
"We're not counting up the losses," Krabbenhoft said. "We got Purdue next (on Tuesday) and we better be ready."