Despite the presence of two nationally ranked teams, exciting and entertaining college basketball this was not. The game being played in this Big Ten
basketball contest was like the slush, snow, ice and stagnant dirty
water outside the Kohl Center- slow, hard to navigate, sludge and
drudgery.For the Illini at least, there was never any flow.
As unexciting as the first meeting (won by Illinois 69-61) was,
this was even more wallowed in mire. The #20 Badgers got revenge on the
#16 Illini from their first encounter 76-66, despite shooting just 1-12
from behind the arc in the first half.
Yet Bo Ryan's team still led by 2 at the
break. This was a continuation of the first meeting; in which Illinois
held the badgers to just 4-20 shooting from three. Since this is a much
more perimeter focused team than the Badgers of recent past, it was
essential that Illinois keep its guard up behind the arc in the second
They did not. Wisconsin
scored ten unanswered (which in a game like this is 25 unanswered) to
start the second half, pushed their lead to 12 and never looked back.
Defense on the perimeter was abandoned. On the other end of the floor,
Illinois had lots of good looks, plenty inside but just couldn't finish.
Even the bunnies, the cheapies, couldn't fall.
Demetri McCamey led the Illini with 23 points, but shot just 3-13 from
the field. He entered the game with 51% FG. Illinois was leading the Big
Ten in 3 pt% at 43% entering today, second in field goal at 49%. But
today they shot just 30% for the game, 25% from beyond the arc.
Overall, the scoring was a bit higher here than in the first meeting,
but that was due to all the fouling; especially at the end. There was no
type of offensive augmentation or quickened tempo over the first game.
It's just that these two teams combined to shoot 77 free throws in this
one; after combining for just 34 in their Champaign meeting.
The bigger story though was the benching of freshman wing Jereme Richmond.
Illinois third leading rebounder and sixth leading scorer, who started
two conference games, didn't play a minute today. Richmond has played at
least double figure minutes in every game this season and scored a
career high 12 on three occasions. Due to what was stated as a "personal
matter," he has been missing from the team since the loss at Penn State
on Monday, and did not take the team bus up to Madison.
He instead drove up from his native Waukegan, IL.
"Jereme had to go home for a personal matter, so it was hard for us to
play him tonight. He'll back with us in practice tomorrow, and hopefully
able to help us out Tuesday night," Illini Coach Bruce Weber said.
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com
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