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Wisconsin 74, No. 12 Illinois 51 — Final

MADISON, Wis. — Jared Berggren scored a team-high 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in leading Wisconsin to a 74-51 win against 12th-ranked Illinois on Saturday.

D.J. Richardson poured in a game-high 16 points to lead the Illini (14-4, 1-3 Big Ten) who have dropped 4 of 6 after starting 12-0.

Brandon Paul scored eight points for the Illini, ending a streak of 17 straight games of scoring in double figures. The 51 points was a season-low for Illinois.

The previous low came in a 68-61 loss at Purdue in the Big Ten opener.

More later on HQ.

Wisconsin 56, No. 12 Illinois 37 —11:28 second half

Just before the start of the second half, Illinois coach John Groce delivered a passionate speech to his team captains Tracy Abrams, Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and Sam McLaurin.

Tyler Griffey came out of the locker room for the second half once action had already began. When Nnanna Egwu got foul No. 4 less than two minutes in, Griffey replaced him.

McLaurin started the second half in place of Griffey.

Illinois ran a play out of a timeout for Tyler Griffey early in the half.

Tracy Abrams got laid out on a screen by Mike Bruesewitz and Groce was all over his guys for not calling it out.

Abrams was fine, had to leave briefly because they stopped the game for him.

D.J. Richardson has now made a three-point basket in 24 straight games.

A young female Illini fan is sitting not too far from us up here in Section 208 “Come on, defense!” she said right before Ryan Evans buried a jumper.

This is the kind of performance that takes you all the way out of the Top 25.

Mike Shaw is playing his tail off. You’ve got that going for you.

I think that dunk by Richardson was his first of the season. He can really get up when he wants to.

Illinois went on a 10-0 run to cut the Badgers lead down to 18 at the 12-minute mark.

The officials are calling all kinds of fouls on both teams now. We might be here for a while.

Wisconsin can’t shoot free throws, by the way. But it doesn’t matter when they rebound them all.

Wisconsin 39, No. 12 Illinois 19 — Halftime

Wisconsin made consecutive turnovers at the under-12 timeout and the Illini couldn’t cash them in for any points.

Nnanna Egwu and his two fouls checked back in at the 10:07 mark. Got to gamble when the game is in danger of getting away from you this early on the road in conference play.

The gamble didn’t work out, he picked up a foul 16 seconds later. He’s got three. It was an off-the-ball call by Ed Hightower.

Illinois had missed 14 consecutive three-pointers dating back to Wednesday until Brandon Paul hit one late in the half. They started 0 for 6.

Former Illinois golfer Steve Stricker is in the house wearing a Wisconsin hat.

The people I’ve heard from on Twitter are not happy that the Edgerton, Wis. native is showing no love for the Illini.

Being down 20 at Wisconsin is like being down by 35 to anyone else. I do not forsee a comeback happening today. I'm never right about anything, though.

Illinois trailed 17-15 in that 38-33 loss to Penn State a few years ago. They're ahead of that pace.

I’d hate to be in that Illinois locker room right now. That vein in John Groce’s forehead that everyone talks about when he’s angry has got to be about ready to pop.

Illinois’ lowest point total in the first half this season was in the home win against Gardner-Webb. The Illini had 24 at the break that day.

Not sure how many offensive rebounds Wisconsin has on the offensive side, but it’s a lot.

The Illini shot 6 for 23 (26.1percent) and 1 for 8 (12.5 percent) from long range in the half.

Wisconsin was 16 for 30 (53.3 percent) and 6 of 14 (42.9 percent) from deep in the half.

Wisconsin outrebounded the Illini 24-11, including 11 offensive rebounds in the half.

Each team turned it over seven times.

They're showing highlights from Wisconsin's Big Ten championship clinching win against Illinois from 2002-03. Members from that Wisconsin team are on the court now with their trophy.

Wisconsin 14, No. 12 Illinois 3 — 11:34 first half

Illinois whistled for a travel on tow of its first three possessions.

Tyler Griffey attempted a three-pointer on the second trip down. He didn’t make it, but he took the shots. That’s what the coaches want from him.

Griffey got popped in the face three minutes in and went to the locker room.

Good thing this wasn’t a home game and the Illini fans were doing the Orange Hush. They didn’t score until almost seven minutes had passed and Wisconsin got out to a 14-0 lead. Brandon Paul made a free throw to stop the bleeding.

Speaking of bleeding, Griffey came back a few minutes after going to the locker room.

He launched up a three after re-entering and missed it.

After Ben Brust’s three-pointer made it 14-0, Groce was all over Myke Henry. Mike Shaw popped off the bench to replace him. Mike hasn’t played in a while.

Coming in, Wisconsin was shooting 7 for 34 from three-point range in two Big Ten games. The Badgers started 2 for 4 today.

Illinois is 1 for 7 from the floor (14.3 percent). Joseph Bertrand ended the field goal drought.

Wisconsin is 6 for 12.

Illinois looks like it will have to go without Nnanna Egwu for the bulk of the first half. The sophomore big man has two fouls.

Illinois also has turned it over four times.

No. 12 Illinois (14-3, 1-2) at Wisconsin (11-4, 2-0) — Tipoff (BTN)

The Illinois coaches are wearing purple ties today to support Project Purple, the movement spearheaded by former NBA guard Chris Herren.

The initiative is to bring awareness to bring awareness and spread the word about drug and alcohol abuse, particularly among teens and young people.

The Illinois basketball team attended a event in Champaign last month where Herren spoke. Herren spoke about his experiences dealing with drug abuse throughout his playing career. It really moved the players and the staff.

I was there, too, it was something else.

Here’s a link to my prediction. I picked Illinois to win today but with absolutely no confidence. I’ve missed four of my last five. I’m in a slump.

I blame my plantar faciitis that the doctors told me I had this week. I did it playing basketball. It doesn’t feel good. So, if you see me limping around, that’s why.

I have to get a prediction right one of these days, right?

D.J. Richardson has made two halfcourt shots today during warm-ups. Brandon Paul missed. They usually go back and forth with that.

Same lineup for Illinois: Abrams, Richardson, Paul, Griffey and Egwu.

Wisconsin counters with Jackson, Brist, Evans, Bruesewitz and Berggren.

They just showed a commercial for “The Journey”. The BTN’s signature show returns this Sunday with a new season of episodes.

Lots of Illini fans in the Grateful Red seats. I heard a few I-L-L, I-N-I chants.

I’ll be back midway through the half with an update. 

No. 12 Illinois (14-3, 1-2) at Wisconsin (11-4, 2-0) — 30 minutes before tipoff (BTN)

One of the things to keep an eye on today is the pace of play. Wisconsin, as everyone knows, likes to plays slow. Illinois would rather a game in the 70s. Whoever can dictate the flow of the game likely will have success today.

Illinois played a fast game Wednesday against Minnesota. Now, it might have to adjust.

“I think about the NCAA tournament last year when I was at Ohio. The Michigan game was up and down, probably more our tempo. Then we had to play South Florida in the second round to go to the Sweet 16, South Florida hadn’t allowed 60 points in like 12 consecutive games. We got 62 or something in the game and felt like we scored 100,” Groce said. “I think the key is efficiency. Regardless of what the tempo or number of possessions ends up, who’s the most efficient within the possessions they get? How do they value those possessions? What’s the quality of their possessions like. That’s the key.

Here’s an interesting note: Since the Gonzaga game, Illinois has shot four more free throws per game than their opponents. That includes three losses in which Illinois is fouling at the end of the game to extend the action.

That means they’re making more of an effort to get to the basket with the long-range shots not falling.

Late-arriving crowd here in Madison. Most of the folks here so far are wearing orange and blue. I’m told the Wisconsin students are still on break for another week or so.

Maybe the folks are out at the local establishments eating brats and drinking beer.

I bought a brat a minute ago, put ketchup on it and a lady looked at me as if I had just taken a crowbar to Aaron Rodgers’ knee.

Wisconsin has hoods on its warmup jackets. I guess it gets cold up here.

No. 12 Illinois (14-3, 1-2) at Wisconsin (11-4, 2-0) — 60 minutes before tipoff (BTN)

Both teams have made their way out to the floor. Wisconsin is wearing white. Illinois is in the blue threads. Nnanna Egwu is wearing new shoes today. He’s got the LeBron’s on, the team version.

I’m not sure yet, but I think one of your officials today will be Jim Schipper. There was a guy who looked a lot like him today in our hotel. He looks like he could be suiting up for the Packers at safety today. I wouldn’t argue with him if I were a player today.

Get these numbers: In two games in Big Ten play for Wisconsin (home games against Nebraska and Penn State) the Badgers have shot 38 percent from the floor (42 for 110), 21 percent from three-point range (7 for 34) and 41 percent from the free throw line (16 for 39). They’re 2-0. Stats are goofy sometimes.

Jared Berggren has been good. The big man is averaging 13 points and three blocks per game in conference play. He’s only averaging two boards, though.

“The big fella, what’s interesting watching him is he’s really good defensively,” Groce said of Berggren. “He’s gotten so much better about him over the last several years. That redshirt year, he probably benefited a lot from that. He’s very polished offensively. He’s very skilled, can shoot the ball from the perimeter, can score it inside. He covers up a lot of things for them, they use him a lot like we use Egwu defensively. It starts with him on the interior.”

As a group, Wisconsin’s front line isn’t as big as some of the others in the league, but they’ll be tough. Mike Bruesewitz (6-6) and Ryan Evans (6-6) aren’t very tall, but they can play inside and out.

Berggren is a guy who can play with his back to the basket, which is a luxury.

I asked Dustin Ford yesterday if they would like Nnanna Egwu to do more of that and he said with time he will start to do it more. Right now, he’s not completely comfortable doing it for the bulk of the time, and they won’t force him to get out of his comfort zone. He will get there eventually.

Having that this day in age is a benefit.

“It’s huge. It allows you a chance to throw the ball in the paint, in the post. It creates offensive rebounding, the closer you get to the basket the better chance you get fouled in there.

“There are different ways to get to the paint. You can pas it there off of a cut, you can post it there, you can offensive rebound it there and you can drive it there,” Groce said. “You have to get creative there based on your personnel.”

Mike LaTulip’s family just showed up. Mike is at center court catching up with an old friend, Wisconsin’s Duje Dukan, a former News-Gazette All-Stater from Deerfield.

It’s cold in here. They play hockey in this building, too.

No. 12 Illinois (14-3, 1-2) at Wisconsin (11-4, 2-0) — 90 minutes before tipoff (BTN)

Good morning, basketball fans. Marcus Jackson joining you from the Kohl Center pressbox ahead of today’s Big Ten matchup between the Illini and Badgers.

It’s a nice day here up north with temperatures in the 40s, though there’s still quite a bit of snow on the ground from the storm a couple weeks ago. The Illini were delayed in Savoy last night because there was some thick fog here in Madison preventing a landing. They knocked around the idea of flying to Milwaukee and taking a bus here, but they got clearance and made the 45-minute flight.

Loren Tate and I made the drive up I-39 in about 3 hours and 40 minutes.

One of the many good things about traveling with Loren is he hits you with some serious knowledge. He read Sports Illustrated writer Luke Winn’s entire stat-filled column to me on the drive up. There was some really good stuff in that.

Tate also informed me that in the last 22 games between Illinois and Wisconsin, the first team to reach 60 points is 22-1. So, turn off the scoreboard and stop the game today when someone gets 60.

Wisconsin, I’m told, is a 6-point favorite today on its home court.

Hope you were able to catch our story today on blossoming sophomore big man Nnanna Egwu. If not, here it is. Fantastic kid, who’s only going to continue to get better. He works his butt off. That’s what kids from South Holland do.

As for this one today, Illinois hasn’t let the loss to Minnesota on Wednesday night get them down heading into the game with the Badgers.

“The biggest thing is you can’t get self-absorbed with any win or loss in the league or your mind won’t be right,” coach John Groce said. “The biggest thing we’ve tried to do is get our bodies and minds right yesterday. I thought we competed really hard Wednesday night watching the film. We had our season-high in toughness plays — charges, loose balls, blockouts, screening — all the little things that help your team be successful.”

The problem for the Illini is they didn’t make enough shots. Illinois was a season-worst 3 for 24 from behind the three-point line (12.5 percent). They need to start knocking down those outside shots. Is today the day?

Transition defense was also an issue. Illinois gave up 21 points in transition Wednesday, though you probably won’t have to worry about that with the Badgers, unless you turn it over a bunch.

Expecting to see a lot of green in this building today with the Packers playing the 49ers today in San Francisco in the NFC Divisional playoffs.

You can imagine this state is pretty fired up.

I’m heading to the pregame show with Loren Tate and Steve Kelly. I’ll be back with another update after a while.

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bleacher preacher wrote on January 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm

MJ, I agree with the lady giving you strange looks. You just ruined that brat by putting ketchup on it!!!!

JamesB wrote on January 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Wow.  Looks like one of those days.

rachet wrote on January 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm

What is it with this ILLINI team??

CecilColeman wrote on January 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Gee, where are all those great players recruited by Wayne McClain and Jerrance?

jgrout wrote on January 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm

"Don't panic".  Uh, down 31-7 in Madison, to one of the lesser B1G teams... I think it is.

Contrary to earlier expectations, the collapse at the end of last season has not been put behind this team.  They look like they've already begun another one.

tmoney68 wrote on January 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm

You can be out talented and out shot but in real life and in basketball you can't be out toughed!

tmoney68 wrote on January 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm

BP3 said what's the panic about it was just one loss? Well now it seems this team is playing like 2012. Coach Groce will get his own players and this beat downs will not be happening, still a good season, so far!

tmoney68 wrote on January 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Wow a beat down in Madison for real!

LoyalIllini wrote on January 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Half time rebounds:  WI 23, IL 10 -- 1 ea for TG and NE????  Not tough enuf.

jgrout wrote on January 12, 2013 at 3:01 pm

After the coach's "passionate speech", they went out and lost the second half anyway (by "only" three points).  What would Indiana or Michigan do to this team?

beekay wrote on January 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Or Minnesota.