MADISON, Wis. (AP)—For every other Big Ten team, Wisconsin’s Kohl Center isn’t the place to go for a little peace and quiet.
But for the second year in a row, Illinois was able to enjoy the silence.
Dee Brown and Rich McBride scored 16 points apiece and the sixth-ranked Illini beat the Badgers 66-51 Tuesday night, picking up their fourth straight victory over the Badgers and second straight in one of the nation’s toughest road venues.
“That’s what you want to hear on the road—silence,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. “You start seeing the people start walking up the stairs, and now you’re starting to feel good.”
Illinois remains the only Big Ten team to beat the Badgers at home in five seasons under coach Bo Ryan.
Senior guard Dee Brown has been humbled at Wisconsin—“my sophomore year, I got 30 put on me by Devin Harris,” he said—but his last memories there will be victories.
“Bo Ryan does an excellent job in this arena,” Brown said. “So for us to come in here and win two years in a row is special to me.”
Illinois (20-2, 6-2) took sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with the win, moving a half-game ahead of Michigan and Iowa.
Brown had 12 in the second half and forward Brian Randle had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
The Badgers (15-6, 5-3) have lost four of their last five.
“You look at their faces after a loss, it’s tough,” said Alando Tucker, who scored 19 for Wisconsin. “You lose one at home in the Big Ten, it’s always tough. You have to realize that this is still early.”
The Badgers shot 3-for-20 from the 3-point line.
“When the threes aren’t falling, you have to find other things to help you get points,” guard Kammron Taylor said. “I think we need to do a better job of getting to the free-throw line.”
Illinois’ leading scorers, Brown and James Augustine, struggled to score in the first half, but Illinois got contributions from its up-and-coming role players to turn an 11-point first-half deficit into a six-point halftime lead.
“Now, we’re not just the Dee team,”’ Weber said.
McBride said the Illini responded to a road deficit better than they did in a Jan. 17 road loss at Indiana.
“Coach called timeout and he just told us that we have to play more aggressive or it was a going to end up like it was at Indiana, and we turned it around,” McBride said.
Illinois began the game shooting 7-for-22 and trailed 24-13 after Tucker’s drive and layup with 9:25 remaining in the half.
But the Illini took a 26-24 lead on Augustine’s fast-break slam dunk off a Brown lob pass and extended the lead to 32-24 on McBride’s 3-pointer with 1:17 to play. The Illini had four steals during their 19-0 run.
Taylor’s three-point play ended the run, but Illinois went into halftime with a 34-28 lead.
“When a team’s making a run, you’ve got to be able to respond,” Tucker said.
The Badgers rallied in the second half, but it wasn’t enough. Ray Nixon missed a 3-pointer that would’ve given them the lead.
The Illini responded with Augustine’s layup, and Jamar Smith’s 3-pointer off a McBride steal gave the Illini a 49-42 lead with 8:50 to play.
A McBride 3-pointer extended the Illinois lead to 55-43, causing the Badgers to call a timeout with 7:12 remaining.
Two Brian Butch free throws brought the Badgers within 58-49 with 2:18 left, but Wisconsin couldn’t get any closer in the final two minutes.
“When you take a bump, you can’t say we’ll enjoy this tonight, so we won’t enjoy (losing),” Ryan said. “But the next day you get right back to doing what you have to do.”
New Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema addressed the crowd during a first-half timeout. … Illinois beat Wisconsin three times last year—twice in the regular season and in the Big Ten tournament title game. … Wisconsin held Illinois’ top two scorers in check in the first half. Brown had four points and Augustine had two points.