Wisconsin falters again, loses 91-83 to No. 13 Illinois

Wisconsin’s ugly slide in the second half of the Big Ten season continued Saturday with a 91-83 loss to No. 13 Illinois at the Kohl Center.

The Badgers struggled to slow Wisconsin native Marcus Domask much of the day, as he put up a season-high 31 points, including going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. As a team, the Illini shot 9-for-16 on 3-pointers, as they beat Wisconsin for a seventh straight time. Future NBA first-round pick Terrance Shannon Jr. added 23 for Illinois, which improved to 13-5 in Big Ten play.

Coach Greg Gard’s club, meanwhile, dropped its seventh game in the last nine outings, as 20 points and seven rebounds from Tyler Wahl was not enough. Max Klesmit added 16 points and five rebounds, while Chucky Hepburn had 15 points.

AJ Storr was also in double figures with 13 points and three rebounds. Steven Crowl was limited to four points in 14 minutes due to foul trouble. John Blackwell had seven of Wisconsin’s 15 points off the bench before fouling out.

Seemingly energized by the return of former assistant coach Howard Moore to the Kohl Center for the first time since a 2019 car accident killed his wife and daughter and severely injured him, the Badgers got off to a good start. They led 14-5 early on before Illinois grabbed a 31-25 lead. But the Badgers closed on a 10-5 run to make it 39-37 at the break.

It was a game of runs in the second half, with Illinois going on a 9-2 run to take a 68-61 lead with 7:21 left only to see the Badgers answer with 3-pointers from Hepburn and Blackwell to help them tie it. But the Illini always had an answer and eventually pulled away for the win.

Defense, a season-long problem for the Badgers, was on display again as the Illini scored hot 1.38 points per possession. Three-point shooting, also a concern for Wisconsin much of the year, was a huge difference in the game as the Badgers started 2-for-10 before hitting a a couple late to get to 6-for-16 on the day. The loss dropped the Badgers to 5-7 in games decided by single digits, including 2-6 during their scuffles over the last month.

Wisconsin is now 18-11 on the year and 10-8 in Big Ten play. The team will finish out its home schedule on Thursday with a visit from Rutgers.