January 24, 2009

Illinois prevents UW from snapping skid

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Wisconsin entered Saturday afternoon's game at Illinois desperate for a win following three straight losses. After Demetri McCamey's 25-point, seven assist and four rebound performance led the Illini to a 64-57 victory in front of a sold out Assembly Hall, the Badgers are limping back to Madison with a season on a downward spiral.

"The way I feel is that we don't play hard all of 40 minutes," UW guard Trevon Hughes, who bounced back from three bad outings to score 13 points without a turnover, said following the game. "We probably play hard 30 minutes and then we just lose it at that and we just get out-hustled sometimes."

In the hustle categories though, the Badgers did not fare poorly. Wisconsin out-rebounded Illinois (32-30), equaled the Illini in assists (12), committed five fewer turnovers and logged seven steals in Saturday's contest.

It was the 35.6 percent shooting from the field that cost the Badgers because it was not enough to keep up with Illinois' 50 percent shooting.

"They're just really good at making you shoot tough shots," UW senior Joe Krabbenhoft, who paced the Badgers with 16 points and 12 rebounds, said. "You get good looks, but they're not as good as you think because there is a hand in your face."

After a back and forth start to the game, the Illini jumped on UW with an 11-2 run to open up a 20-11 lead midway through the opening frame. However, Wisconsin bounced back and eventually cut the lead to four before another late Illini surge gave Illinois a seven-point edge at the break.

To start the second half, the Illini burst out with a 9-3 run to open a 13-point lead with just under 16 minutes to play. Then, following a Kevin Gullikson bucket, it seemed as though Krabbenhoft had established the position needed to take a charge on the defensive side.

But when Illini guard Chester Frazier drove the lane, Krabbenhoft was whistled for the blocking foul instead. And the situation worsened when the official slapped Bo Ryan with a technical foul when Ryan was seemingly supporting Krabbenhoft on the play.

"I was applauding Joe Krabbenhoft for taking a charge," Ryan, who saw his team become the first Badger squad since 1998 to lose four-straight Big Ten games, said. "That was my thought. I don't know. I have no idea. Maybe somebody in behind me said something on the bench or maybe one of the assistants stood up or whatever. I have no idea because there was no explanation."

McCamey, who nailed 11-of-13 free throw attempts during the game, hit both technical shots from the stripe and Frazier converted both of his throws to give Illinois a 15-point edge with just more than 14 minutes to play.

However, UW did not quit and managed to slowly trim the Illini lead. On multiple occasions, the Badgers forced Illinois into committing a turnover in the waning minutes and some shots finally started to fall for the cold shooting team.

The Badgers had the Illinois margin down to five following a Jordan Taylor lay-in with 26 seconds to play but that was as close as it would get. Even after Marcus Landry's steal on the ensuing inbound set up an open look for Jason Bohannon from beyond the arc that the junior, who finished with only two points, was unable to make.

"The guys that are on the floor are the toughest guys we have," Ryan said in regards to his team's late run. "We just need to get that from the rest of the guys. Sometimes that comes with strength and experience. Physically, we didn't take advantage of some opportunities that we had.

"If somebody is going to tell me that Jon Leuer and Bohannon were going to go 2-for-13….they had some decent looks."

The Badgers will return home Tuesday night where they will play host to Purdue.

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