The Illinois Fighting Illini lost to the Wisconsin Badger, 74-68, in Madison on Sunday.
Despite shooting under 30 percent for most of the first half, the Badgers led the Illini, 33-24 at the half. This was mostly because of how bad the Illini shot in the first half. They went 8-of-27 (29.6%) from the field and 1-of-4 from beyond the arc. The only thing that kept them in the game was their free throw shooting (7-of-10).
However, junior Ben Brust would make sure the Illini did not come back to win the game. Yes, Illinois shot better in the second half, but did not shoot well enough to win. Brust scored a team-high 20 points for Wisconsin. He went 7-of-11 from the field and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc.
This was Brust’s first game with double-digit points since he scored 13 points against Penn State on January 13th.
Another big player for the Badgers on Sunday was sophomore Frank Kaminsky.
Kaminsky was second on the Badgers with 19 points in the game. However, most of his points came from the foul line. Illinois sent him to the charity stripe for a total of 14 free throws. Kaminsky made 12 free throws in the game and Wisconsin went 19-of-31 from the foul line in the second half.
This was a season-high game for points and free throws for Kaminsky. He only scored nine total points in his last five games and never took more than four free throws in a single game this season.
Although they lost, Illinois had five players reach double figures on Sunday. These players were Joseph Bertrand, Nnanna Egwu, D.J. Richardson, Tracy Abrams, and Brandon Paul.
Their leading scorer was Joseph Bertrand. Bertrand, who started in this game, scored 17 points and hauled in seven rebounds. He played 31 minutes and went 8-of-12 from the field.
Brandon Paul did not start in this game and only played 25 minutes. He recorded 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists. Paul had a bad shooting day by going 3-of-13 from the field, but got to the free throw line and made 7-of-10 free throws.
Just like in the loss to Michigan State, one of the biggest problems for Illinois was how often Wisconsin got to the foul line. In their last game, Illinois sent Michigan State to the foul line for 34 foul shots. They sent the Badgers to the line for 31 foul shots in the SECOND HALF! Wisconsin went 19-of-31 from the charity stripe in the second half.
The other problem for Illinois was that they shot poorly from beyond the arc against the Badgers. Everybody knows that Illinois is successful when they shoot the three ball effectively. That was the case on Sunday.
On Sunday, the Illini shot a total of 13 3-pointers in the game. Nine of them came in the second half where they only made one. They went 2-of-13 from beyond the arc in the game.
Illinois has lost three straight games and has lost seven of nine. Illinois’ next two Big Ten foes will be ranked in the Top 25 (Indiana and Minnesota).
The Fighting Illini are now 15-8 overall and 2-7 in the Big Ten.
Their next game will be against the #3 (soon to be #1) Indiana Hoosierson February 7th. The Hoosiers beat #1 Michigan, 81-73, in their last game. They are 20-2 overall and 8-1 in the Big Ten.
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