Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Men’s Basketball: Wisconsin falls 91–83 for seventh straight loss against Illinois

Howard Moore makes emotional return to Kohl Center for first time since 2019
Soren Goldsmith

While Saturday’s game looked no different on the 2023-24 calendar, those who were inside of the Kohl Center or watched from home shared an incredibly powerful and emotional moment as the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball program honored former Badger player and assistant coach Howard Moore and his family prior to tip-off.

The ceremony included a 90-second video of Moore’s teammates and fellow coaches talking about Moore and his impact on UW Basketball, and concluded with Moore’s triumphant return to the Kohl Center for the first time since a tragic car accident took the lives of his wife and daughter back in 2019.

Though UW ultimately came up short, the contest served as a reminder that some things are bigger than sports — a sentiment shared by both UW head coach Greg Gard and University of Illinois head coach Brad Underwood postgame.


With the University of Illinois boasting a starting lineup of five players listed at 6-foot-6 or taller but no traditional center, UW was forced to shuffle their usual defensive matchups and — for the first time all season — utilized small lineups for extended periods of time.

Marcus Domask, a player coach Gard likened to Penn State graduate Jalen Pickett, operated as the Illini’s primary ball handler, but he was guarded by forward Tyler Wahl considering Domask’s back to the basket play style. Point guard Chucky Hepburn drew the task of covering Terrence Shannon Jr., who entered the game averaging the fifth most points per game in the country.

The duo led Illinois with 53 combined points. Individually, Domask accounted for 31 points and eight rebounds — including two highly contested turnaround jumpers from the post that put the Badgers away in the final minutes. Domask — a Waupun, Wisconsin, native — drilled a season high four 3-pointers on merely six attempts, a surprising outcome considering Domask was hitting at a 26.9 percent clip from deep entering the game.

Being unable to contain the three-ball hurt the Badgers once again Saturday (328th in the country in opponent three-point percentage), allowing the Fighting Illini to go 9-for-16 (56.3%) from deep. While UW finished 6-of-16 (37.5%) themselves, they went 2-for-2 from three in the final 61 seconds to inflate their overall numbers.

Wisconsin had four players finish in double figures Saturday. Wahl led the charge with 20 points (9-for-14 FG, 1-for-1 3Pt), guard Max Klesmit tallied 16 points, five boards and three assists, Hepburn accounted for 16 points, three assists and a pair of steals while guard AJ Storr chipped in 13 points (4-for-12 FG). Forward Steven Crowl was held to just 14 minutes due to foul trouble. He only played five minutes in the second half.

Though Crowl’s absence forced UW to play small, utilizing guard-heavy lineups was part of the game plan for Gard.

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“We expected that we were going to have to play small,” Gard said postgame. “It’s hard for a big to match up with [Coleman] Hawkins because he’s sliding down on so many screens … when you have Domask doing booty ball and then four shooters and actions around, it’s hard for a seven footer.”

There were two long periods in the second half where Gard rolled out lineups that consisted of only one big — primarily Wahl — surrounded by three guards and Storr, or four guards. Across those stretches (18:41 to 13:53 and 12:29 to 3:54) UW outscored the Fighting Illini by five points, and went plus-seven in the first stint.

Gard credited the team for their fight and effort throughout the game, but noted UW’s inconsistencies.

“We play good basketball at times,” Gard said. “[But] we continue to have a lapse here and there and that’s going to get exposed against better teams.”

After earning a 20–13 lead midway through the first half, one of those aforementioned lapses struck. The Badgers would go nearly five minutes without a made field goal — turning the ball over three times in that span — and got outscored 18–5 to prompt a timeout from Gard.

Coming out of the break, UW was able to trim the deficit to 39–37 heading into halftime despite Illinois shooting 6-of-10 from three and receiving 27 combined points from Shannon and Domask in the half.

The Badgers managed to stay within striking distance for most of the second half, even tying the contest with 5:44 to go after a pair of three-pointers from Hepburn and guard John Blackwell, but only got one stop after the breakeven, ultimately falling 91–83.

Having lost seven of their last nine, Hepburn reiterated Saturday that the team needed to continue to work and get better.

“We’re in control of our own destiny, so we can go downhill from here or we can go up from here,” Hepburn said postgame. “It’s just a matter of fact of how are you going to finish games out, and we gotta figure that out quick otherwise … it’s going to be a quick March for us.”

UW will welcome Rutgers University — to whom the Badgers lost by 22 earlier this season — to the Kohl Center on Thursday before closing out the regular season at West Lafayette against Purdue University Mar. 10.

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