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Without Dosunmu, No. 5 Illinois survives late scare at No. 23 Wisconsin

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Two in a row in Madison

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

No Dosunmu, no problem.

The Illini were without their All-American for the second straight game and still picked up their second consecutive victory. Illinois (18-6, 14-4 Big Ten) put on a defensive clinic for 37 minutes, holding the Wisconsin Badgers (16-9, 10-8 Big Ten) to just 34.8% shooting for the afternoon as the Illini escaped with the victory, 74-69, at the Kohl Center on Saturday afternoon in Madison, Wisc.

D’Mitrik Trice scored the last 19 points for the Badgers and spearheaded a 19-8 run that had Wisconsin down one with six seconds remaining, but pairs of Trent Frazier and Jacob Grandison free throws iced it for the Illini just after double technicals on Da’Monte Williams and the Wisconsin bench.

It was clear Illinois wanted to push the tempo against a fundamentally sound and veteran team like Wisconsin. As a result, the pace and stout defense held the Badgers to just 1-of-15 shooting from the floor to open the game, and they took a double-digit lead into the break, 37-26.

But an 11-point edge at half probably should’ve been higher if not for 12 first-half turnovers. Illinois shot 65% from the field and connected on four of its six first-half 3-point attempts, yet took roughly half as many shots as the Badgers because of its trouble holding onto the ball.

Illinois came out flat start to the second half, which allowed the Badgers to trim the lead to two possessions within the opening minutes. Wisconsin struggled to capitalize, however, as the Illini started to feed their big man. A drought of five minutes midway through the second half let the Illini to mount their largest lead of the ballgame at 14.

The Badgers utilized a spectacular finish from Trice to make things interesting down the stretch, but couldn’t get over the hump as the Illini led wire to wire and left with the 74-69 win.

STAT STUFFERS

  • Da’Monte Williams: 12 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists
  • Kofi Cockburn: 19 points, 7 rebounds
  • Andre Curbelo: 17 points, 7 rebounds
  • D’Mitrik Trice: 29 points, 6-9 3FG

SOUND SMART

We’ll take it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

Belo Bunnies!

L-O-L.

TWEET OF THE GAME

It’s okay, Jason (and Dan). We all make mistakes.

WHO’S NEXT

You know who it is. The conference’s best collide on Tuesday as the Illini travel to No. 3 Michigan (18-1, 13-1 Big Ten). A contest that was originally scheduled for the beginning of February, the Wolverines postponed the matchup as they were returning from a COVID-19 pause.

Tip is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.