Wisconsin downs Illinois to advance to Big Ten final
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Alando Tucker scored 21 points and passed
Michael Finley to become the all-time leading scorer at UW, as the third-
ranked Wisconsin Badgers downed the Illinois Fighting Illini, 53-41, in the
semifinal round of the Big Ten Tournament at United Center.
“My teammates, they were getting open, and that’s one of the things that we’ve
been making a conscious effort on doing the whole season,” Tucker said. “When
I get the ball, no one stands around.”
The Badgers (29-4) moved on to the final to face No. 1 Ohio State, which
downed Purdue 63-52 in the earlier game. Wisconsin made back-to-back
appearances in the finals of the Big Ten Tournament in 2004-05, winning its
lone title against Illinois in 2004, while losing out in the rematch to the
Illini in 2005.
Kammron Taylor scored 16 points for Wisconsin, which finished second in league
play with a school-record 13 conference wins this year and was rewarded with
an opening- round bye. Marcus Landry added eight points for the Badgers, who
made their first appearance in this tourney on Friday, posting a 70-57 win
over seventh-seeded Michigan State, which added to the school’s record win
total for the season.
Warren Carter netted 14 points as the only player in double figures for the
Illini (23-11), who were forced to begin tournament play in the opening round,
where they posted a 66-60 triumph over 11th-seeded Penn State. Rich McBride
and Shaun Pruitt both scored nine points for Illinois, which then followed the
PSU tilt with a 58-54 overtime upset of third-seeded Indiana in the
quarterfinals on Friday.
“I think they did a good job of packing it in close and just trying to push me
out as best they could,” Pruitt said. “I had a pretty good game when we played
them earlier in the season, so they definitely did a good job of limiting me
Trailing by two early on, the Badgers rattled off six straight points to take
a 16-12 lead midway through the first half, and led 23-18 at halftime.
With a two-point lead early in the second half, the Badgers put the game away.
Wisconsin rattled off seven straight capped by a Landry free throw with
13:23 remaining, and two minutes later went on an 8-0 spurt capped by Taylor’s
trey with 8:24 left for a 47-34 lead.
Illinois has reached the finals of the Big Ten Tournament four times and it
has prevailed in the title game twice…As for the all-time series, Illinois
owns a 106-70 advantage over the Badgers, although Wisconsin posted a 71-64
win during the regular season.