LIVE! Wisconsin

LIVE! Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. — Illinois' losing streak in Big Ten play reached seven games with a 75-50 loss to Wisconsin on Friday night. Leron Black led the Illini with 16 points and Trent Frazier added 11 points, but Illinois couldn't bounce back from an 11-point halftime deficit. For the first time this season, the Illini were on the wrong end of a blowout.

Be sure to check out Saturday's News-Gazette and right here at IlliniHQ.com for more from the game.

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Wisconsin 68, Illinois 44 — 7:27 left in 2nd half

It's a 24-point game. Couple that with an 8 p.m. start, and the deadline crunch is real. Leron Black has 16 points and Trent Frazier has gotten to 11 points, but that's about it offensively for the Illini. Not being able to stop Wisconsin (63 percent shooting) hasn't helped. One more update coming after this thing's over.

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Wisconsin 43, Illinois 32 — Halftime 

Just think about where Illinois would be right now if Leron Black hadn't gone 5 of 6 from the field and put up 12 points in the first half. The Illini would be well and truly sunk — again — in a Big Ten road game.

As it stands, Illinois should consider itself in a good place down just 11. Especially when you consider Wisconsin is 8 of 13 on layups through the first 20 minutes. The Badgers' ball movement is certainly notable. It never stops, and they end up with layup after layup after layup.

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Wisconsin 37, Illinois 24 — 3:42 left in 1st half

Twitter's not exactly a happy place right now for Illini fans ...

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Wisconsin 27, Illinois 18 — 7:48 left in 1st half

Alex Illikainen is a guy that has struggled to get off the Wisconsin bench of late. He just hit a three-pointer to put the Badgers up nine. Honestly, it's been a weird start to the game. Illinois is actually shooting 62 percent from the field (although just 1 of 3 from beyond the arc compared to 3 of 5 for Wisconsin).

Five turnovers might not seem like a lot, but the Illini aren't helping themselves by failing to hold on to the ball. Some silly ones, too, like when Leron Black just couldn't catch a pass from Mark Alstork that would have been an easy layup. Illinois is currently averaging 1.000 point per possession. That's not particularly good, and it took some work to get there.

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Wisconsin 17, Illinois 11 — 11:35 left in 1st half

Ethan Happ only has two points, and he's gotten the ball several times 20 feet from the basket. That's not a bad thing for Illinois. But the fact Happ crossed up Kipper Nichols for his lone bucket wasn't exactly a good look for the Illini forward. Brad Davison is the only other Wisconsin player that would really have given me pause before the game if I was Illinois. The fact he has seven points and is getting to the basket when he likes isn't good.

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Illinois at Wisconsin — 8 p.m., FS1

Starters for tonight. Mark Smith back in replacing Da'Monte Williams ...

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Illinois at Wisconsin — 8 p.m., FS1

This might be a shorthanded Wisconsin team Illinois is facing with no D'Mitrik Trice or Kobe King, but that doesn't mean the Badgers still won't pose a threat. Ethan Happ is still Ethan Happ (even if he's had some struggles as the No. 1 guy after two years playing off Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes). And Wisconsin is still Wisconsin.

"They have a tremendous identity about them," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. "They know who they are. They’re going to try and run their stuff. They know exactly who’s going to touch the ball. They’re not as deep or athletic as they have been, but they’re very well schooled in who they are and what they are."

Basically, the players might have changed, but the Badgers haven't. They're pace of play ranks 346th of 351 Division I teams, and that extends to some of the lengthier possessions in the country (347th of 351).

"I don’t look for anything to be any different," Underwood said. "Do we want to have more possessions than that? Yes, but it’s much easier said than done. We’ve got to try to instill our will a little bit and see who comes out on top."

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Illinois at Wisconsin — 8 p.m., FS1

In addition to coverage from tonight's game in Madison, Saturday's News-Gazette will have an update on Hall of Fame coach Lou Henson. Here's a sneak preview ...

"Lou Henson didn’t get to celebrate much on his 86th birthday. 'Too busy going from appointment to appointment,' said his wife, Mary. 'We started (at the hospital) at 5:30 a.m. and didn’t get done until 10:30 that night. Happy birthday, Lou.'

The Hensons have spent the last two-plus weeks in Houston, the Hall of Fame coach recovering from an illness that saw him admitted to MD Anderson Cancer Center. The good news? Lou’s feeling strong enough to return to his Champaign home as soon as this weekend."

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Illinois at Wisconsin — 8 p.m, FS1

James Palmer Jr.'s game-winning three-pointer from Monday night? Yeah, Brad Underwood has rewatched that play a few times since.

"I watched it 100 times," he said. "I think we played it right. They spent six seconds in the backcourt and didn’t run anything. They had two guys standing on top of each other. The kid kind of double pumps and (Trent Frazier's) right there. That’s the crazy thing about basketball sometimes it’s that things sometimes don’t make sense."

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Illinois at Wisconsin — 8 p.m., FS1

Brad Underwood had a few more thoughts after Monday night's loss to Nebraska — aka another game the Illini could have won but didn't. That loss just happened in much more dramatic fashion than the others of that ilk this season.

"I don’t know if we’ve had that chapter in the book yet," Underwood said. "I guess we can continue to add to the book. I’m about ready to put a conclusion to it of all crazy stuff.

"Any time you outrebound an opponent like we did that game, it kept us in the ball game. The ball didn’t go in at a real high clip, yet you find a way to stay in the ball game and have a chance to win it. The offensive rebounding and our dominance on the glass was a big part of that.

"I thought another great night from Trent Frazier. I was ecstatic to see Michael (Finke) get going and hit a real meaningful shot. I hope that continues to give him some confidence. More pleased than him making the shot, I was pleased to see him get back on the glass."

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Illinois at Wisconsin — 8 p.m., FS1

While the Illini are on the road for more Big Ten hoops, basketball is still being played at State Farm Center with the Harlem Globetrotters squaring off against the Washington Generals. Even if you opted for some basketball closer to home, feel free to follow along with the LIVE! Report from your phone. 

And if you chose the Illini and Badgers, check out our Snapchat (search "news-gazette") for photos from N-G Media photographer Stephen Haas. Of special note, former Illini Joseph Bertrand is playing for the Generals tonight back at his old stomping grounds.

If you're not following me on Twitter, do so at @srrichey, but here's some of what you missed before the LIVE! Report went, well, live ...

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Another Illinois game away from State Farm Center, another LIVE! Report on the road. Beat writer Scott Richey (as always, that's me) is all set up at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. — one of the cooler Big Ten arenas in my opinion — as Illinois (10-9, 0-6 Big Ten) attempts to snap its six-game Big Ten losing streak and four-game losing streak in general.

Standing in the Illini's way is Wisconsin. The Badgers (9-10, 2-4) aren't exactly the same kind of team that has beaten Illinois in every meeting since 2011 and every game in Madison since 2010. These Badgers are struggling. A 16th straight top four finish in the Big Ten is a truly unlikely scenario.

So now's as  good a time as any for the Illini to get Brad Underwood his first Big Ten win. Spoiler alert: I picked Illinois. Perhaps I'm putting too much faith in Illinois and not enough in a Wisconsin team that has not impressed this season, but the Illini are eventually going to win a conference game. They've been too close so far not to. Maybe tonight's the night.

An Illinois win, in that case, would help basketball reclaim the status of news of the day. Right now, Lovie Smith's Illini football team holds that after announcing the hire of offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Rod Smith and tight ends coach Cory Patterson. More on that later. I might be on a basketball road trip, but I have some football thoughts.

Still, this is an Illinois basketball LIVE! Report. With tipoff an hour away here in Madison, you've got time to catch up on all things Illini hoops here at IlliniHQ.com:

Lineups, storylines and the beat writer's pick

A look at the futility of the Illini in the Big Ten of late

Dosunmu not a McDonald's All-American pick

The latest Tatelines Podcast

Four new offers out from Brad Underwood

This week's chat with nearly a dozen questions asked and answered

Underwood to Finke: 'Worry about defensive end'

CHAMPAIGN — Michael Finke had a single point, two fouls and four rebounds when the first half of Monday night's game at Nebraska came to an end.

The only statistic among those three Illinois coach Brad Underwood concerned himself with was the last. Underwood hasn't wavered in his support of Finke as a shooter and scorer. That he had four rebounds — split equally offensive and defensive — was what he wanted the 6-foot-10 redshirt junior forward to focus on in the midst of a rough patch offensively.

Finke finished the game with 16 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.

The biggest play, of course, was his four-point play that had Illinois on the precipice of its first Big Ten win of the season. His overall play, though, is what the Illini (10-9, 0-6 Big Ten) need more of as they continue conference play at 8 p.m. today at Wisconsin (9-10, 2-4).

To continue reading, click here. Then make sure to keep coming back to IlliniHQ.com all night. With an 8 p.m. tip, second half updates take a back seat, but there will be extra online only content after midnight.

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BruckJr wrote on January 19, 2018 at 11:01 pm

#WeWill?When?