No. 5 Illinois was missing its best player but that didn’t matter Saturday afternoon as the Illini held off a late Wisconsin run to beat the 23rd-ranked Badgers 74-69.
Illinois led by 12 with 2:13 left and the game appeared to be safely in the win column, but then D’Mitrik Trice took over. Playing in likely his final home game, the senior scored Wisconsin’s final 19 points, including a 3-pointer with 7 seconds left to make it 70-69. After hitting two free throws, the Illini never allowed the Badgers to get a look for a game-tying 3-pointer, fouling Trevor Anderson with 1.9 seconds left and essentially sealing the win.
Trice finished with 29 points (6-for-9 on 3P) before fouling out. Fellow senior Micah Potter was the only other player in double figures for Wisconsin, as he had 15 points and six rebounds.
Before Trice’s explosion, the Badgers offense was failing them, something that has become common place in the second half of the season. Wisconsin started 1-for-15 from the field and fell behind by 13 just 6:58 into the game. At one point in the second half the Badgers were shooting only 25% before finishing the game at 34.8%.
The Illini were without All-American guard Ayo Dosumu due to a broken nose, but it didn’t hurt them on the offensive end. Center Kofi Cockburn had a team-high 19 points and seven rebounds, as Illinois shot 52.1% from the field, including 55.6% from beyond the arc.
It was Senior Day for the Badgers and it was largely a forgettable one for several of Wisconsin’s veterans. Nate Reuvers, Brad Davison and Aleem Ford went a combined 5-for-26, as the Badgers dropped to 0-6 in games against the top four teams in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin is now 6-7 in its last 13 games and sits at 16-9 overall and 10-8 in conference play. The Badgers will close out the regular season with road games at Purdue and Iowa.