Foul trouble? Who cares about that?Senior guard Trevon Hughes and junior forward Jon Leuer worked in and out of foul trouble all game but still got the job done offensively and helped the Badgers defeat Illinois, 72-57.
Hughes sat out a great portion of the first half because of fouls but managed to record his first double-double in his final regular-season game at Wisconsin. Hughes finished the contest with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Leuer also danced around foul trouble Sunday, picking up a third foul in the opening minutes of the second half. Then, after only a two-minute stint on the bench, he came in and promptly picked up his fourth. But the forward, who did not play in the first meeting between the two teams, was a force offensively, scoring 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field.
“They get in foul trouble, which they never seem to get in foul trouble,” Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said. “And we couldn’t take advantage of it.”
When Hughes was on the bench, sophomore guard Jordan Taylor handled the offensive reins and matched Leuer’s offensive output with 20 points. Taylor shot 8-of-17 from the field, including 3-of-6 from long distance, and added eight rebounds and three assists to ensure the Badgers did not miss a beat when Hughes, their starting point guard, was relegated to the bench.
Of Hughes’ and Taylor’s 19 rebounds, 10 were on the offensive side of the ball. Junior forward Keaton Nankivil added five offensive rebounds.
“The thing we said could make a difference in the game were loose balls, rebounds, and they were able to get them,” Weber said.
Illini junior guard Demetri McCamey, who torched the Badgers for 27 in the teams’ first meeting, never got going like he did in Madison, scoring 11 points Sunday on 2-of-8 shooting. Junior center Mike Tisdale led all Illini with 16 points on Illinois’ Senior Day.
The No. 16 Badgers (13-5 Big Ten, 23-7 overall) will now close the book on the regular season and focus on the Big Ten Tournament beginning Friday, which rematches the Badgers against the Illini.
Illinois (10-8, 18-13) now sits in a precarious position in terms of its NCAA Tournament prospects. If the Badgers believed they were facing a desperate team today, Friday will be against a team ultimately in a must-win situation.
“We got one last chance to make the season a positive one, but we’ve got to play smarter and we’ve got to get better effort on both sides of the court,” Weber said.
Tisdale echoed the same sentiment as Weber, knowing this could be the team’s final chance to somehow get back into the NCAA Tournament picture.
“It’s do or die,” Tisdale said.
It is great to see the Badgers turn it up in March. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!