After a somewhat lackluster start to the 2019-20 season, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team appeared to be turning the corner at the beginning of Big Ten play. Wisconsin won four consecutive games, including an impressive resume-building road victory over No. 5 Ohio State University.
Instead, the Badgers dropped a crucial home game to unranked Illinois, 71-70.
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Trailing 20–19 with just over seven minutes to go in the first half, the Badgers (9-6, 2-2) kicked it into high gear and went on a 15–8 run, capped off by a Micah Potter lay-in to go into halftime with a comfortable 34–28 lead.
Potter — a transfer from Ohio State University — continued his strong play off the bench, scoring 13 points and adding nine rebounds. Since his return, Potter has averaged 6.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Trailing for most of the second half, the Illini (11-5, 3-2) knotted up the game with 3:19 remaining, following a massive right-wing three from sophomore guard Alan Griffin. After a Nate Reuvers baseline turnaround jumper, a Trent Frazier corner three gave Illinois their first lead since a 20–19 lead with 6:58 in the first half.
The two teams traded baskets before the Badgers clung to a narrow 67–66 lead.
Then, Illini sophomore sensation Ayo Dosunmu took the game over.
As over 16,000 fans at the Kohl Center stood on their feet, Dosunmu calmly slashed to the right side and finished a scoop layup past Brad Davison, giving Illinois a 68–67 lead.
On the Illini’s next possession, Dosunmu nailed a stepback 3-pointer that proved to be the dagger, extending the Illinois lead to 71–67. Wisconsin sophomore guard Kobe King’s three-pointer tightened the game to 71–70 but proved to be too little, too late as Illinois escaped Madison with a victory.
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The win was not only the Illini’s first road win of the season but also snapped a 15-game losing streak against Wisconsin dating back to the 2010-11 season.
King’s play proved to be a bright spot in Wisconsin’s loss. The once highly touted recruit out of La Crosse scored 21 points on 10-for-13 shooting. This year, King has doubled his scoring average from last year, averaging 10.3 points per game.
This next stretch is critical for Wisconsin and their NCAA Tournament hopes. With three games against ranked opponents, the Badgers have the opportunity to add quality wins to their resume. As of right now, the Badgers are projected as an eight seed by ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.
Wisconsin looks to get back on track as they travel to Happy Valley on Saturday for a road clash against Penn State.