Tisdale hit 8 of his first 10 shots and McCamey went on a stretch where he knocked down 11-of-13 baskets from every conceivable angle possible, giving Wisconsin the false sense of hope that either of the players would cool down eventually and they could make its decisive run.
They never did and Wisconsin never could answer. McCamey turned in a brilliant shooting performance with a game-high 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting and Tisdale made 8-of-11 shots for 19 points, as Illinois boosted its tournament resume with an impressive 63-56 upset over No.11 Wisconsin Tuesday.
"It's amazing with what Bo has done here," said Illinois coach Bruce Weber, who improved to 3-3 at the Kohl Center with the Illini. "The arena is great, the fans are great but it's Bo and the system and the players. The players believe in the system … Tonight, we were just fortunate. I don't know if we wanted it more, but we made the plays and the balls bounced our way."
The juniors were the only means of offense for Illinois (17-8, 9-3 Big Ten), scoring 46 of the Illini's 62 points, but it never seemed to matter against a Wisconsin defense that had suffocated opposing team's offense, allowing just 53.7 points per conference game, tops in the league.
With Illinois second in the league in conference scoring (69.2 ppg), Tisdale knocked down virtually every open look he received on the perimeter and every hook shot he threw in over junior Keaton Nankivil.
McCamey scored 16 of his 27 points in the first half, but was just as vital in the second half, including a mini four-point run midway through the second half that took away the lead from Wisconsin for good.
"I know I get after Demetri but after his start, he was sure good and made plays," Weber said.
Even though no other Illinois player scored over nine points, the Fighting Illini shot 53.3 percent from the floor, and Wisconsin (18-6, 8-4 Big Ten) still had a bevy of opportunities to take control of the game, and its fate for the remainder of the Big Ten race, late in the contest.
After Jordan Taylor (eight points, three assists, two turnovers) lost control of the ball and dove on the floor to secure it, the sophomore guard nearly called a timeout before seeing senior Jason Bohannon open on the wing. Taylor dished to Bohannon, who nailed the open three-pointer to tie the score at 53 with 5:16 remaining
But what Weber, a Milwaukee-native, noticed on the film was the vulnerability that Wisconsin had defending the pick-and-pop play. Utilizing that play primarily the whole game and especially down the stretch, Illinois guard D.J. Richardson and McCamey hit two big jumpers on the next two possessions and the Illini closed the game on a 10-3 run.
"I always try to watch the games where people have success against them," Weber admitted. "A few of the games I watched, that's the first I said to the players, ‘We can get pick and pops.' Once they started figuring that out, we just kind of exploited them."
The Badgers tried to muster an answer but Wisconsin shot just 25.8 percent in the second half, missing 17 of its final 20 shots, including 11 of its final 12 after Bohannon's tying three-pointer.
"We were right in position throughout until the end of the game," said Bohannon, who led the Badgers with 15 points. "Even when we weren't converting shots and stuff, we were doing other things to keep us there. We just have to find a way to make those shots."
The victory ends Wisconsin's 18-game home court winning streak (seventh-longest streak in the country) and hands UW coach Bo Ryan his first home loss against an unranked Big Ten opponent, making Illinois the first unranked team to win in Madison since 2000 (Jan.29 vs. Iowa).
"How many teams have we played teams were guys had those jump shots, those opportunities and not shot that percentage?" Ryan questioned. "Sooner or later it catches up to you … We weren't scoring at the other end. The problem is if you don't put points on the board, it just doesn't look good.
"You knew it would happen sooner or later that we would go dry. We just picked a bad time to do it."
Tisdale made five of his first six shots to open the game but the rest of the Fighting Illini left their shooting touch out in the cold, starting 0-of-10 from the floor and not cracking double digits until the 8:11 mark, allowing Wisconsin to build an 11-point lead.
Once McCamey warmed up, Illinois made it a game, as the duo of Tisdale and McCamey combined to score 29 points in the first half and contributed 12 points during a 14-3 Illinois run that brought the visitors back to even at 27 all.
"Anytime you get an opponent down by 10 points, you want to make that deficit larger," Bohannon said. "We didn't necessary do the right things for a period of time where McCamey hit a couple shots, and that got them right back in a groove. Anytime you have a player struggling like that, you want to keep pushing … We necessarily didn't do that tonight and let them get back in the game."
McCamey scored 15 points in the final 6:03, finishing the first half hitting a three pointer on each of Illinois' final three possessions, including the final one fading back from 28 feet just as the shot clock expired, giving the Fighting Illini a 33-32 lead with 32 seconds left.
"That quick blurb gave them some confidence," Ryan said. "That's not very often you see guys come in and shoot like that. Give them credit. They made the shots, jumpers with hands in their face, and we didn't."
The real deflation to come till seconds later. With time winding down in the half, Nankivil and Bohannon both passed up open three-point looks to swing the ball to Hughes, who drilled the three from the elbow to put the bounce back in Wisconsin's step.
The bounce never returned for Hughes, who missed all eight of his shots from the floor in the second half, or Nankivil, who missed all seven of his attempts after halftime. Both were scoreless in the second half.
"We just wasn't making anything basically in the second half," said Hughes.
Because of that, Wisconsin sits a game out of first place but alone in fifth place in the competitive Big Ten.