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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Men’s basketball: No. 5 Wisconsin takes care of Illinois, pushes win streak to eight

Jason Chan

Winners of four straight games, Illinois came to the Kohl Center Sunday to take on the No. 5 Wisconsin men’s basketball team as one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten.

But Wisconsin cooled down the Fighting Illini Sunday at the Kohl Center, ending its four-game winning streak while extending its own win streak to eight games, dominating Illinois in a 68-49 victory.

The Badgers were once again led by senior forward and National Player of the Year candidate Frank Kaminsky, who recorded 23 points on 11 of 16 shooting (69 percent) and 11 rebounds in 35 minutes. The double double was Kaminsky’s Big Ten-leading 10th of the year.


Wisconsin (23-2 overall, 11-1 Big Ten), as the players have grown accustomed to doing, started the game on a 10-2 run, but Illinois (17-9 overall, 7-6 Big Ten) quickly countered with three consecutive shots from behind the arc to take an 11-10 lead. The Illini started the game just 1-for-5 before Austin Colbert, Rayvonte Rice and Malcolm Hill hit the consecutive three-point shots that put Illinois ahead.

From there, the Badgers started to get in more of a rhythm offensively. Following a dunk from junior forward Sam Dekker, Kaminsky went on to score eight straight points for Wisconsin.

Unfortunately for UW, Illinois continued with their hot shooting in that stretch, matching every one of Wisconsin’s baskets over the course of the next five minutes of the game. The Badgers and Illini tied four times over that stretch.

The game was tied at 22 in the first half with six minutes remaining when the Badgers, just as they did to open the half, went on a 10-2 run to end it.

The run was capped off by a layup just before the buzzer by sophomore guard Bronson Koenig, and the Badgers went into the locker room with a 32-24 lead.

[Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan] was pretty upset after we gave up three threes in a row, so they did most of their scoring in a very short amount of time,” Kaminsky said. “We just had to play defense, get stops and then turn that into offense.”

For the first time this season, Wisconsin went the entire first half without making a three-point shot, as they shot 0-for-5 from behind the arc in the first half

As a result, UW looked to do a majority of their damage in the paint. The starting frontcourt of Kaminsky, Dekker and sophomore forward Nigel Hayes shot 13 of 16 from the field and scoring 29 of Wisconsin’s 32 first half points. Overall, the Badgers outscored Illinois 22-6 in the paint in the first half.

In the second half, Wisconsin picked up right where they left off, but on the back of sophomore point guard Bronson Koenig.

Koenig went 3-for-4 from three in the final 20 minutes of the game en route to a 13-point second half, giving him 15 overall for the game.

Koenig’s second-half performance came as a result of Illinois doing all they could to neutralize Kaminsky, once again proving the Badgers go far beyond their All-American.

“It’s a team,” Ryan said. “If Kaminsky can bring people out with him and clear lane space, and other guys can make back cuts and get in position to score from 10-feet in, that’s okay by us.”

Kaminsky, after scoring 17 of his 23 points in the first half, was held in check by the Fighting Illini for the majority of the second.

However, with just under six minutes left in the game and the Badgers up 10, it was Kaminsky who ultimately put the game away, scoring six consecutive points and pushing the Wisconsin lead to 16.

Those were the only points Kaminsky was able to score in the second period, but Wisconsin’s efficiency on offense never wavered, and they never allowed Illinois to come within less than nine points for the final 20 minutes.

“I was able to have a pretty good stretch there [in the first half] getting the ball into the paint, but in the second half you could see they made adjustments,” Kaminsky said. “It’s just one of those things where you need to read how the defense is playing you.

To go along with Kaminsky and Koenig, Hayes (14) and Dekker (10) rounded out the Badgers who scored in double figures, as Wisconsin’s starters combined to score 65 of the team’s 68 points.

Hill and Rice were the only Illini players to score in double figures, scoring 15 and 10 points respectively.

Overall, Wisconsin shot 27 of 53 (51 percent) from the field for the game and outscored the Illini 36-14 in the paint.

The victory gives Wisconsin a 23-2 record on the season, equaling the Badgers’ best 25-game start in program history.

The win also gives the Badgers a 2.5 game lead over Maryland in the Big Ten race with just six games to go in the regular season, and there appear to be no signs of UW faltering down the final stretch.

“To hold a good team like [Illinois] to 49 points is a job well done,” Dekker said.

Wisconsin will look to extend its win streak to nine games Wednesday when they travel to University Park to take on Penn State. Tip off is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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