Illini look good, not great in first half


INDIANAPOLIS – Five days ago, Illinois fell to Wisconsin because 6-10 junior Jon Leuer torched the Illini in every way possible for 20 points. And the Illini were out-rebounded 17-9 on the offensive boards.

Through one half in Friday’s Big Ten quarterfinal, the Illini didn’t fare much better in either area. They were leading 29-20 at halftime, but Leuer continued to torment them with 11 first-half points, and the Badgers again beat them up on the offensive boards with a 7-0 advantage.

The reason Wisconsin struggled throughout the first half was its shooting. It shot 6-of-32 from the field, 3-of-12 from three-point range and 5-for-10 at the free-throw line. The Badgers’ first-half numbers aren’t anywhere near its .451 field-goal percentage, its .362 3-point percentage or .739 free-throw percentage.

Wisconsin’s shooting likely will come around in the second half.

The question is whether Illinois can make up for it by beginning to contain Leuer and blocking out Wisconsin’s players.

Stay tuned.

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.