Illinois suffered its biggest loss of the season last night against the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin rode a 16-6 run midway through the first half to a routine victory at the always tough to play at Kohl Center.
Here are some top takeaways.
1. Wisconsin’s Block Party
The Badgers were tough on defense all night, holding Illinois to 40.4 percent shooting. A big part of this was the size and shot blocking ability of Wisconsin, which had 10 total blocks on the night, led by freshman Nate Reuvers with 5.
Illinois has no answers for teams with size on either side of the floor. Brad Underwood has tried different personnel groupings and schemes, but nothing has worked.
A lack of an interior game for Illinois becomes even more of an issue when you take into account the Illini’s three-point shooting woes.
2. Mark Smith, Kipper Nichols, and Aaron Jordan all held scoreless
The trio of Illini guards combined for 0-for-9 shooting, four rebounds and no assists. Illinois needed someone else to step up as a scoring option with Trent Frazier struggling, but Smith, Nichols and Jordan — all in the top five on the team in scoring — couldn’t provide any assistance.
Aaron Jordan has been held scoreless in three of the first five games in 2018. Nichols had two very good games against Michigan and Iowa before reverting back to poor form.
And Smith? I don’t know what has happened to Smith after his fast start to his freshman year.
Illinois needs these secondary scoring options to step it up and become more consistent if the Illini want to win in the Big Ten, even after this season.
3. Losing streak against Wisconsin continues
The last time Illinois beat Wisconsin was on Jan. 1, 2011. The Illini have lost 12 straight against the Badgers since.
Man, I really hate Wisconsin basketball. Even after Bo Ryan left, they are still haunting my dreams.