NO. 13 ILLINOIS TOPS WISCONSIN, KEEPS BIG TEN TITLE HOPES ALIVE

MADISON, Wis. — Remember when Illinois couldn’t buy a win against Wisconsin?

Make it seven straight — and a chance for the Illini to still claim a share of the Big Ten regular season title next weekend.

Led by its two superstars — and facing an emotionally charged Wisconsin team — No. 13 Illinois held on Saturday afternoon at Kohl Center, 91-83.

Heading into the regular season’s final week, the Illini stay alive in the Big Ten hunt. Purdue plays host to Michigan State on Saturday night; if the Boilers fall and Illinois wins out (vs. Purdue, at Iowa), Illinois will claim at least a share of the conference title.

When the Illini (22-7, 13-5 Big Ten) needed their stars to shine, Terrence Shannon Jr. and Marcus Domask delivered, combining for 54 points on 18-34 shooting (7-of-12 from three).

But the Illini didn’t look like a team early on that would be able to stay in the race. Wisconsin honored former assistant coach Howard Moore in a pregame ceremony in his return to Kohl Center after his wife and daughter died in a 2019 drunk diving crash.

The emotion from that ceremony carried over into the first half, as the Badgers controlled the Illini, en route to an early seven-point lead. Illinois shot just 5-of-13 from the field in the first 10 minutes.

But Wisconsin native Marcus Domask played with extra motivation in his “homecoming” game, pairing with Terrence Shannon Jr. to spark a 12-0 run, to give the Illini a six-point lead late in the first half.

The Badgers (18-11, 10-8 Big Ten) would then claw their way back, trailing just 39-37 at the break.

Each team would trade off going on runs in the second half — the key one being the Illini’s 7-0 run with the game tied at 59. The visitors would never trail again after this stretch.

Oddly enough, Illinois held a seven-point lead with under a minute to go. Yes, it held on this time.

It’s a big resume boosting win as the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments rapidly approach, and, again, also the seventh-straight win over the Badgers dating back to 2019. With the win, Illinois also clinches a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

HOMECOMING: Marcus Domask is from Waupun, Wisconsin, which is only 51 miles north of Madison. He put on a show in his return to his home state, scoring 31 points on 12-of-21 shooting — his third 30-point performance of the season.

You could say this one mattered a lot to the fifth-year senior.

RUNNING, RUNNING: Saturday’s win was filled with runs. Both teams traded punches the entire way, with each going on runs as large as 12-0.

Ultimately, an Illini stretch in the second half of 7-0 gave the visitors a seven-point lead which they wouldn’t let up again. The best the Badgers did was tie it, but it was mostly all orange and blue from this point forward.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

Not a dry eye in the building for this moment before tipoff.

Wisconsin also honored Moore’s family at halftime, with Moore’s son Jerrell speaking to the crowd and thanking Badger nation for their support over the past five years.

SOUND SMART

  • Illinois improved to 117-89 all time against Wisconsin (43-58 at Kohl Center).
  • Wisconsin’s active record at the Kohl Center coming into Saturday was 359-69, the 11th-best for any team at its current arena. Illinois handed loss No. 70 off to Wisconsin Saturday.
  • Domask grabbed his 700th career rebound in the first half. According to the program, he is one of three active Division I players with at least 2,000 points and 700 rebounds (Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman, Maryland’s Jahmir Young).
  • Illinois is 10-0 this season when Justin Harmon (10 points) scores 10+ points.

TWEET OF THE GAME

UP NEXT

Last week of the regular season. It starts with a Senior Night game against No. 2 Purdue Tuesday night at State Farm Center.

Tipoff against the Boilermakers will be at 6 p.m. on everyone’s favorite streaming service: Peacock.

2024-03-02T20:19:27Z dg43tfdfdgfd