CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Dee Brown sat on the bench more than he
had all season. He was on the court down the stretch, however, and
hit two long 3-pointers to seal unbeaten and top-ranked Illinois'
70-59 victory over Wisconsin (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today; No. 20 AP) on Saturday.
"Those were daggers," said teammate Deron Williams, who hit
two key 3-pointers to ignite a 10-0 run early in the second half
that erased a one-point Wisconsin lead and put the Illini (25-0,
11-0 Big Ten) in control.
"These guys got me the ball in good position," Brown said
looking at Williams and Luther Head, who led the Illini with 26
points. "I just set my feet and took a couple of shots."
The Illini tied the school record with their 25th consecutive
win. That streak was set over three seasons from February 1914 to
February 1916. It was Illinois' 19th straight win at home and was
played before a record Assembly Hall crowd of 16,865.
Head's 26 points tied his season high and came without benefit
of a 3-pointer. He was 12-of-13 from the free-throw line.
But it was Brown who brought the crowd's loudest roar of the
Just after picking up his fourth foul, he hit the first big 3
with 3:10 to go and only 2 seconds remaining on the shot clock. It
ended a 6-2 run by the Badgers and gave Illinois a 57-49 lead.
"Every time they made a run, we made a shot," Brown said.
The Badgers (16-6, 7-4) got a basket from Kammron Taylor and
Illinois' Roger Powell Jr. hit two free throws to make it 59-51
before Brown pushed Illinois' lead to double figures for the first
time with an NBA-range jumper with 1:43 left that made it 62-51. He
finished 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
"When a guy hits a 3 from that range, you don't have an answer
for that," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.
Brown finished with 16 points in a season-low 26 minutes.
Williams scored 15 points.
Alando Tucker scored 24 points for the Badgers (16-6, 7-4). Mike
Wilkinson scored only two points in the second half after helping
keep the Badgers close early and finished with eight points, the
first time in 15 games he scored fewer than 10.
"They worked me in the post trying to move around and make the
entry passes tough," Wilkinson said. "They did a good job
pressuring (our) guards. Sometimes it's hard to get the ball in the
Wisconsin trailed 27-26 at halftime and started the second half
with two free throws from Tucker to take its third and last lead of
the game. Williams went down court and hit the first of two
straight 3-pointers to give the Illini a 30-28 lead and ignite what
would be the decisive run. He hit again from long range 40 seconds
later and then hit a short jumper from the lane that put Illinois
ahead 35-28. Head hit two of his 12 free throws to finish the run.
Illinois took a 14-8 lead on Brown's 3-pointer with 11:16 to go
in the first half. But a basket and a free throw by Tucker and a
layup from Wilkinson brought the Badgers right back.
The two big men combined for 13 of the Badgers' 26 first-half
points and together grabbed 10 rebounds.
"We were looking to attack the inside," Tucker said. "We
started out doing that good and tried to make a run but we fell
from that. We stopped going inside. We stopped going to
The foul trouble struck Illinois early. Powell was hit with two
fouls in the first 3 minutes and Brown sat the final 6:50 of the
first half with two fouls.
The Illini obviously missed his presence on the floor. They
struggled to find open shots and were just 4-of-10 while Brown was
on the bench, finishing the half shooting 38 percent.
Powell picked up his third foul 16 seconds into the second half
and Brown got his less than 2 minutes in. But coach Bruce Weber
stuck with both and the Illini went on the decisive run.
"I felt if we didn't get going at the start of the second half
that we were playing into their hands," Weber said. "That's why I
kind of hesitated taking Dee out."
Wisconsin had big trouble from the foul line, hitting only
7-of-16. The Badgers also committed 14 turnovers.