Illinois’ 19-0 run in first half quiets home

first_imgIt can be an exciting time when the Illinois men’s basketball team comes to Madison, and this time was no exception. Ticket scalpers grazed the outside of the Kohl Center, charging fans up to $500 to see the two conference rivals go head-to-head in another Big Ten thriller. The student section showed up extra early, just in case they were to miss something special from the beginning. All the indications were there, and for the first time this season the Kohl Center was finally able to live up to its hype. Inside the arena, fans were screaming and jumping, and the place was filled with noise and excitement.It was hard to ignore the extra energy, and the Wisconsin men’s basketball team certainly took notice. With a little momentum in the beginning, sophomore Brian Butch and lone senior Ray Nixon nailed their back-to-back 3-pointers to start the night with a 6-0 Wisconsin lead. The crowd got even more into the night as the Badgers later went on a 14-2 run to bring their lead to 11 points. Things were finally starting to look up for the Badgers. After recently losing two players for academic reasons, the team has been dealing with a lot of extra distractions. But for the first 12 minutes of the contest, it seemed like nothing could distract the Badgers.After a media timeout, the Kohl Center still shook with excitement. That was until Illinois went on a 19-0 run that saw five different Illini players score, none of whom came from Illinois swingman Dee Brown. All the noise and the chaos had stopped, and the Kohl Center went silent. Along with the silence went the confidence of the Badgers, as they were never able to make up for going eight-and-a- half minutes without scoring a basket. “That is what you want to hear on the road: silence,” Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said after the win. “Then you see people start walking up the stairs and you start to feel good.” In the end, Wisconsin suffered its fourth loss in the past five games as Illinois won the contest 66-51. “Tonight for 40 minutes, we weren’t good enough,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. “We just didn’t get it done this 40 minutes.”Despite its fourth Big Ten loss, Wisconsin is still in a hunt for the top spot in the conference. The win knocked the Badgers into another tie, but this time for second place with Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana.The Big Ten has proven to be a tough conference to play in, as the top seven Big Ten schools are 74-5 at home this year. With only three home games remaining for the Badgers, everything is up for grabs. Problems with possessions: In a game were possession was key, Wisconsin certainly was having difficulties coming up with rebounds. The Badgers were only able to tally six offensive rebounds and in the end, they were out-rebounded 43-28 by the Illini.Ryan attributed Illinois players for being “athletic, lengthy and having bounce.” “They’re good on the glass,” he continued. “They have been good all year and we needed to be better. When you let them have second chance opportunities like that, it’s tough.”Wisconsin also had trouble with turnovers. Juniors Jason Chappell had five and Kammron Taylor finished with four. Illinois was able to outscore Wisconsin 24-11 in points off turnovers. The only area in which the Badgers were able to keep up with the Illini was points in the paint. Illinois had 26, while Wisconsin was four behind with 24 points.Krabbenhoft gets ‘down and dirty’: With the recent lack of reserves, the Badgers have been in need of extra help, and freshman Joe Krabbenhoft has been supplying it. The forward’s extra minutes on the court haven’t been easy, as he has almost endured an injury in each of the last five games. However, each time Krabbenhoft takes and elbow to the face, or a nasty fall to the floor, he quickly steps off the court, gets patched up and carries on.”When I look at all the scars on his face, that tells it all,” junior Alando Tucker said of Krabbenhoft. “You can tell he has been through war. Before he came here he had scars on his face, so we knew right there that he was going to get down and dirty and that is the type of player that Joe is going to be. He is not afraid of anybody and that is what we need. We need more of that from however many guys we have. We need that from everybody.last_img