News Local/State

Wisconsin Thumps Cold-Shooting Illini Men

Illini coach John Groce avoids contact with Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes, Tuesday night in Champaign

Illini coach John Groce avoids contact with Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes, in Tuesday night's loss to the Badgers in Champaign. Rob McColley / for Illinois Public Media

The 10th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers jumped out to a 16-2 lead last night in cruising to a 57-43 victory over the Illini men in Champaign. The Badgers had an off-night shooting, but the Illini were worse. Illinois shot just 28-percent from the field, and 24-percent from behind the three-point arc.

Wisconsin won the rebounding battle 45-36. Illini coach John Groce pointed to Wisconsin's 19 offensive rebounds as a difference in the game, but something his squad might have overcome with better marksmanship, especially from leading scorers Malcolm Hill and Jalen Coleman-Lands.

"The thing that stands out is the shooting percentage," Groce said. "We had been shooting the ball well, especially at home. We executed some things and got them some shots. We just didn't make them."

In five seasons at the helm, Groce has never beaten the Badgers. His conference record for the month of January now stands at 12-28.

Illini Leron Black (12) and Malcolm Hill (21) watch as Maverick Morgan tries to take the ball from Wisconsin's Ethan Happ.

Photo Credit: Rob McColley / for Illinois Public Media

Maverick Morgan and Malcolm Hill each scored ten points to lead the Illini, which managed only seven assists as a team.

Ethan Happ led all scorers with 14 points. Nigel Hayes added 11, and Bronson Koenig nine for the Badgers, who shot 41-percent from the field, 30-percent on three-pointers, and just 2-9 from the free-throw line.

After the game Hayes, who is known for expressing his thoughts on social issues, was asked about protests across the country over the last week.

"If you look at the history of the country, the way things go, the way things work, the way things progress, there's a period of buildup, things start to get hectic, erratic, and finally, people come together when enough is enough," Hayes said.

The Badgers are now 19-3 on the year, and 8-1 in conference. Illinois drops to 3-7 in the Big Ten, and 13-10 overall. 

The Illini host the Minnesota Golden Gophers at State Farm Center this Saturday, Feb. 4