(18) Illinois 80, (11) Wisconsin 67: Last word

In a battle for first place in the Big Ten it was No. 18 Illinois coming out on top with an 80-67 win over No. 11 Wisconsin on Wednesday night.

Player of the Game: Kofi Cockburn

As he was in his first two years against the Badgers, the Illinois big man was unstoppable. He finished with 37 points, one off his career high, and added 12 rebounds. The 7-footer pushed Wisconsin around down low and ended up going 16-for-19 from the floor.

Cockburn is a load for any team but he’s been especially difficult for anyone on the Badgers to stop. In four games against Wisconsin, the junior averaged 23.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and shot 72.2% from the field.

The good: Tyler Wahl

Wisconsin got 14 points and six rebounds from the junior. He was especially effective in the first half in driving to the basket and posting up. He scored 12 of his 14 before the half but took just three shots after the break. Wahl has now been in double figures in six of his last seven games, and he’s averaging a career-high 11 points per game.

The not so good: Johnny Davis’ shooting

The Badgers are having a very successful season in large part due to Davis, but he’s really struggled shooting the ball for much of the last month. He’s been over 50% from the field just twice in the last seven games and is sitting at 37.6% overall in that stretch. It included a 5-for-19 effort against the Illini.

Davis did finish with a team-high 22 points and 15 rebounds, and he managed to get to the free throw line 14 times. It’s what he needs to continue to do when his shot isn’t falling.

Stat of the Game: 3-for-24 (12.5%)

That is what Wisconsin shot from beyond the arc. It was the Badgers worst effort from deep since going 2-for-26 in a loss to New Mexico in Dec. 2019. In the last two years Wisconsin has hit just seven of its 48 3-pointers at Illinois.

In Case You Missed It

— Brad Davison had just seven points, tied for his second-fewest this season. He also didn’t hit a 3-pointer, the first time that’s happened in a game since Wisconsin’s last trip to Illinois on Feb. 27 last season.

— Lorne Bowman gave the Badgers seven points off the bench. It was his highest-scoring effort since posting nine points in the season opener against St. Francis (Brooklyn).

— Despite Cockburn’s 37 points, Illinois outscored the Badgers just 42-40 in the paint.

— Wisconsin dropped to 8-3 in Big Ten play and into a tie for third place with Purdue. Illinois now has first place to itself at 9-2, while Michigan State is second at 8-2.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (17-4, 8-3) will come home to face Penn State (9-9, 4-6) on Saturday at 5 p.m.