The streak is over.
Illinois’ four-game winning streak, that is.
The Illini’s season-long four-game winning streak ended on Monday night in an ugly 64-58 loss to Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in Madison. Illinois (10-16, 6-9 Big Ten) has lost 15 games in a row to the Badgers, dating back to 2011.
Illinois came close, mostly due to some help from a few unlikely heroes. While the usual Illinois stars Ayo Dosunmu and Trent Frazier (combined to shoot 3-of-17 from the field and 1-of-10 from behind the arc over the first 34 minutes) struggled to get themselves going offensively, the Illini got solid minutes from Aaron Jordan and Alan Griffin.
Jordan, one of just two seniors on the team, opened the ballgame connecting on two three-point attempts in the opening minutes, and the Illini would need them as points in the first half were few and far between. The Badgers sat at just eight points with seven minutes to go in the first half before both offenses started to find a groove — combining for a total of 51 points (26-25 Illini) heading into the locker room.
As both teams traded blows to open up the second period, the Badgers (18-8, 10-5 Big Ten) finally put together a 6-0 run, giving them their first and largest lead of the game. Illinois did a great job of containing Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, who’s capable of churning out a triple-double on any given night, but it was Brad Davison and Khalil Iverson that gave the Badgers a spark. The pair combined for 35 points and 15 rebounds.
But, the Illini couldn’t pull off the upset and make it five straight as Nate Reuvers’ tip-in put the Badgers ahead two scores, and Illinois turned it over on the ensuing possession.
MOMENTS THAT MATTER
- Khalil Iverson’s put-back slam just before the first-half buzzer put Wisconsin down 26-25 at home.
- Alan Griffin has been a non-factor on offense in most of his appearances this season, but the freshman was a big-time threat for the Illini on a few possessions early in the second half. Griffin made a reverse lay up, and then hit a corner-three on a pass from Dosunmu.
Ayo ▶️ Alan Griffin pic.twitter.com/T47EhuJWGA— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) February 19, 2019
TWEET OF THE GAME
Frazier was so quick on that drive to the hoop that Davison didn't even have time to throw himself to the floor as though he was shot in the chest— The Champaign Room (@Champaign_Room) February 19, 2019
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Look at this beautiful seal by Giorgi to set Trent up with an easy lane to the basket. That’s pretty basketball.
Through 30 minutes....
#Illini Kipper Nichols has played three minutes tonight...— Isaac Trotter (@isaac_trotter2) February 19, 2019
Back to being the 10th man on the roster.
The Illini also shut down Happ this season.
In 76 minutes against #illini this season, Ethan Happ has 16 points.— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) February 19, 2019
For those who remember — or try not to — Monday was 10 years to the day since the Illini’s depressing 38-33 loss to Penn State at Assembly Hall.
And with how the first half was trending for a while, it seemed like history was doomed to repeat itself.
Illinois returns to State Farm Center for a weekend matinee against Penn State, who is still sitting in the Big Ten’s cellar with only two conference wins, including one over Michigan. Two of the Illini’s final five regular season games come against the Nittany Lions.
Tipoff is schedule for 11 a.m. on Saturday on Big Ten Network.
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