25 and counting: Illini remain unbeaten with win over Badgers
Champaign, IL (Sports Network) – Luther Head scored 26 points and pulled down
eight rebounds, as top-ranked Illinois stayed unbeaten with a 70-59 victory
over No. 20 Wisconsin at Assembly Hall.
Dee Brown netted 16 points for the Fighting Illini (25-0, 11-0 Big Ten), who
extended the best start in school history and remained the lone undefeated
team in Division I.
Deron Williams finished with 15 points for Illinois, which has also won a
school-record 21 straight conference games.
Alando Tucker paced the Badgers with 24 points and eight boards. Mike
Wilkinson chipped in eight points and six rebounds for Wisconsin (16-6, 7-4),
which has dropped two of its last three contests.
“They (Illinois) worked me in the post trying to move around and make the
entry passes tough,” Wilkinson said. “They did a good job pressuring (our)
guards. Sometimes it’s hard to get the ball in the post.”
Tucker’s two free throws early in the second half gave Wisconsin a 28-27
Illinois then responded with a 12-2 spurt to move in front 39-30 with 14:38
remaining. Williams hit consecutive three-point shots and totaled eight points
during the run.
The Badgers were able to cut the deficit to five points on several occasions,
the last time at 54-49 on Ray Nixon’s three-pointer with 4 1/2 minutes left.
Brown then drained a pair of three-pointers during an 8-2 run that staked the
Fighting Illini to a commanding 62-51 lead with just 1:43 remaining.
“These guys got me the ball in good position,” said Brown. “I just set my feet
and took a couple of shots.”
Wisconsin got no closer than nine points the rest of the way and fell behind
by as many as 13.
Illinois used a 10-0 run, capped by Brown’s three-pointer, to take a 14-8
advantage with 11:18 left in the first half.
The Badgers then scored the next five points to pull within one and the rest
of the stanza remained tight with neither club enjoying a lead of more than
Tucker’s dunk in the closing seconds pulled Wisconsin within 27-26 as the
teams headed to the locker room.