Under coach Bo Ryan, Wisconsin has made the Kohl Center one of the toughest venues for opposing Big Ten teams. However, playing in Madison hasn’t been nearly as imposing for Illinois.
As both teams look to bounce back from a loss and better their chances of staying in next week’s AP poll, the 16th-ranked Illini will try to win their third straight over the 20th-ranked Badgers on Saturday.
Illinois (13-4, 3-1) is coming off one of its worst shooting performances of the season in a 57-55 loss at Penn State on Tuesday. The Illini, who had won their previous three and came in shooting 64.7 percent in league games, were held to 41.3 percent shooting and had 15 turnovers.
Leading scorer Demetri McCamey, who came in averaging 16.2 points, finished with 10 and committed a season high-tying five turnovers.
“He has to accept that some games he’s not going to be perfect, but then lead us and do all the other things, make the easy plays and easier passes and let it come,” coach Bruce Weber said.
McCamey had a much more impressive performance in a 69-61 win over Wisconsin (12-4, 2-2) on Jan. 2. He finished with 21 points and seven assists, going 11 of 15 at the free-throw line.
The senior guard has averaged 18.2 points in his last six games against the Badgers, scoring 27 and shooting 11 of 17 in a 63-56 victory at Madison on Feb. 9.
That win over the then-No. 11 Badgers made Illinois the first unranked Big Ten opponent to win at the Kohl Center during Ryan’s tenure. Wisconsin is 71-6 in league home games under Ryan, with three of those losses coming to Illinois.
The Badgers, who moved into the Top 25 for the first time this season Monday, will be looking to bounce back after a 64-61 overtime loss at Michigan State on Tuesday.
Wisconsin led by nine at the end of the first half and was ahead 54-48 with just over a minute remaining in regulation, but the Badgers, who lead the nation in fewest turnovers per game with 8.3, had four in the final 65 seconds as the Spartans ended the second half on a 9-0 run.
“We fell apart,” junior guard Jordan Taylor said. “They turned us over and did a good job of pressuring us.”
Taylor had 21 points but shot 8 for 20 for Wisconsin, which made 38.2 percent of its attempts.
Leading scorer Jon Leuer, who came in averaging 19.3 points, was held to 10 against the Spartans. The senior forward scored 19 points against Illinois earlier this month and has averaged 17.0 in the last four meetings. He’s shot 38.7 percent in two losses during that stretch compared to 56.0 in a pair of wins.
His team will also be looking for a better defensive performance against Illinois, which scored the most points by a Badger opponent this season in the last meeting. The Illini shot 56.1 percent, compared to Wisconsin’s other three Big Ten games in which teams shot 39.4.
The Badgers have won 12 straight at home since falling to Illinois last February.