MADISON, Wis. -- Eventually, the Wisconsin Badgers believed, their shots would start to fall. After shooting 38.1 percent from the field in their first two Big Ten Conference games, Wisconsin finally found its groove, hitting 28-of-57 shots (49.1 percent) in a 74-51 victory over No. 12 Illinois on Saturday at the Kohl Center. The Badgers were even more impressive from long range, making 10-of- 23 shots from 3-point range. Wisconsin Badgers made only seven 3-pointers in their two previous league games. "We were hitting shots," coach Bo Ryan said. "That kind of revved up our defense a little bit. That's as well as we've played for a total of 40 minutes this year." Jared Berggren recorded his first career double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Traevon Jackson added 13 points and Ryan Evans had 10 for the Badgers. Freshman Sam Dekker finished with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-7 on 3-point shots. He hit back-to-back threes in the second half to give Wisconsin a 28-point lead. Wisconsin was just as good on the defensive end, holding the Illini to their worst shooting effort of the season. Illinois shot 35.3 percent from the field and made only 2-of-14 shots from beyond the arc. The Badgers were also monsters on the glass, out-rebounding Illinois, 43-24, and had an 18-9 advantage on offensive rebounds. "That was a pretty good effort for our guys," Berggren said. "We were able to put it together for the most part where we were knocking down shots finally and kept consistent on defense, forcing them into tough shots, and did a pretty good job cleaning up on the glass. "It was good to get a complete effort." Coming in off the heels of a 84-67 loss to then-No. 8 Minnesota, the Illini couldn't buy a basket for much of the first half. Illinois missed its first five shots, turned the ball over four times and didn't get on the board until Brandon Paul hit one of two free throws with 13:13 left in the first half. The Illini's first field goal came not long after on Joseph Bertrand's jumper at the 12:38 mark. By that time, Wisconsin already had put the game seemingly out of reach. The Badgers scored the first 14 points and shot 53.3 percent in the first half, leading by 20 at the break. Wisconsin forced seven turnovers in the first half and turned them into 17 points. "They dominated every facet of the game, especially in the first half," Illinois coach John Groce said. "Their competitive spirit was better than ours and that is unacceptable. Today we didn't have it." Illinois put together something of a surge, scoring seven in a row and drawing to within 54-36 on Bertrand's layup with 12:26 to play. Wisconsin turned the ball over four times during that stretch, but quickly righted itself and was back ahead by 21 points after Dekker's dunk with 11 minutes left. D.J. Richardson led Illinois with 16 points and Bertrand added 12 points and seven rebounds. NOTES: Wisconsin has won 11 of the last 15 games and four in a row against the Illini. ... Illinois is one of only two teams to win multiple games at the Kohl Center with Bo Ryan as the Badgers' coach. The Illini's three victories are the most of any Big Ten team and represent one-third of the Badgers' home losses under Ryan. ... The Badgers have held their last 11 opponents under 60 points and are sixth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 54.9 points per game. ... Brandon Paul of Illinois had scored in double figures in each of the last three games against the Badgers, averaging 15.7 points. He finished eight Saturday on 1-of-11 shooting. ... Wisconsin is 3-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since the 2008-09 season ... The Illini's 51 points is their lowest total of the season.
Wisconsin's shots fall and so does IllinoisBy Andrew Wagner, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Sat, Jan 12, 2013 5:50 PM EST
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