Bucky 74, UI 51: 'Unacceptable'

Bucky 74, UI 51: 'Unacceptable'

MADISON, Wis. — In the hallways of the Kohl Center on Saturday, a smiling Bo Ryan crossed paths with a dejected John Groce, embraced him and said, “That’s the best team we’ve played all season, we’ve seen it (on tape).”

Surely the Wisconsin coach, known for his above-average sense on humor, wasn’t being serious. Not after his Badgers had just delivered a 74-51 beatdown to Groce’s 12th-ranked Illini in front of 17,249.

This one was decided in the first six minutes when the Badgers jumped ahead 14-0.

“I thought they dominated every facet of the game, especially in the first half,” Groce said. “The thing that was most disappointing to me was at the end of the day their competitive spirit was better than ours to start the game. That is unacceptable, that’s not what we’re about.”

The Illini set season lows for points and made three-pointers (2 for 14).

Brandon Paul, who entered the game second in the Big Ten in scoring (18.6 ppg), was held to single digits in scoring for the first time this season with eight points.

The Badgers outrebounded Illinois (14-4, 1-3) by 19 and had nearly as many offensive boards (18) as the Illini had total (24).

It wasn’t Paul’s day. It wasn’t Illinois’ day.

“How do you play the No. 1-ranked team in the country in offensive rebounding this past Wednesday (Minnesota) and get 74 percent back and then have that type of effort on the glass today?” Groce asked. “It’s in there, we didn’t have it today.”

So Ryan wasn’t completely off the mark with his comment to Illinois’ first-year coach. This is, after all, the same team that won at ninth-ranked Gonzaga after falling behind big early. It’s the same team that blitzed 14th-ranked Butler to win the Maui Invitational.

But the reason Groce was hired to replace Bruce Weber is Illinois was in need of a change in culture.

The toughness had disappeared. And except for two games this season — a loss at Purdue and Saturday — Illinois has had it.

The key now is to not let the bad feelings from the latest setback snowball. If they do, with the Big Ten featuring five other ranked teams — not including Illinois — the losses could begin to pile up for the Illini, who got a game-high 16 points from D.J. Richardson and 12 from Joseph Bertrand (seven rebounds).

Jared Berggren had the first double-double of his career for the Badgers (15 points, 12 rebounds) while Traevon Jackson (14 points), reserve Sam Dekker (13) and Ryan Evans (10) also reached double figures.

“One thing I’ve learned about playing in this league is when you don’t play very well and you play a good team and they play really well, you get the result you got today,” Groce said.


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jimbo2009 wrote on January 12, 2013 at 10:01 pm

TWO assists....total.....for the game.....by the entire team????  Now that has to be a record and a sure prescription for a loss!

Bear8287 wrote on January 13, 2013 at 12:01 am

A poor performance by the Illini, but it's not the end of the season.

The seniors on this team still need to decide what they're legacy is going to be.  It's all there, right in front of them.  Play to their potential, make the NCAA tournament and make a run and they'll be well remembered.  Roll over and play dead and they'll only be remembered as the recruiting class that was highly touted but twice folded and otherwise will be very forgettable.

I'm still optimistic.  Poor shooting is sometimes a symptom of tired legs and the Illini looked lethargic at the Kohl Center. The next game is at home against Northwestern and the Illini will have until Thursday to pick themselves back up and get ready to play. I expect to see the team that beat OSU on the floor Thursday evening.

Go Illini!

wholdcroft wrote on January 13, 2013 at 8:01 am
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The word "unacceptable" is actionable (except in government, of course).

We are about to get our first look at how this coaching staff handles bad behavior.

penniless wrote on January 13, 2013 at 10:01 am

Just more of the same for Illinois.Cubs,Bears and Illini,hyped to win,played to lose.Hope with a win against Northwestern and then dashed hope against the Corn People.Same old cr-pe year after year. Double digit win with the Cats and double digit lose with the Huskers.Same team Same results,No Dance,once agan.

AJ's Dad wrote on January 13, 2013 at 11:01 am

Obviously this last loss is tough to take but let's not let it overshadow the success so far. Take a look around the nation and you will see that most teams have had a couple of embarrasing showings (especially Georgetown). I think these guys will be fine. Go Illini!