February 10, 2010

Good, bad and ugly from Illinois loss

MADISON - When a team that doesn't lose at home loses at home, it becomes pretty evident that things did not go the direction that team wanted them to go.

That was exactly the case for Wisconsin following a stunning loss to a red-hot Illinois squad Tuesday night in Madison.

Before steering attention towards Indiana, UW's next opponent, BadgerBlitz.com takes a look back at the good, bad and ugly from a loss that resonated throughout the entire Big Ten.

THE GOOD:

The start:

Wisconsin did not waste any time jumping on Illinois when Trevon Hughes and Tim Jarmusz followed up a offensive put back from Keaton Nankivil with a couple of long range bombs. The quick 8-0 run seemed to have the Badgers on track to continue its march up the league standings.

If that wasn't persuasive enough, how do three separate 11-point leads grind your gears?

But the last time I checked, a college basketball game is not 15 minutes long. I was told once that you're only as good as the way you finish, and the way Wisconsin finished was absolutely miserable.

So needless to say, even though UW was hot to start the game, it was just as, if not more, cold to end it. Illinois hung tough and did what it needed to do. Now, the Illini are sitting atop the conference perch with Michigan State and the Badgers are left wondering what could be at least until the next time they take to the floor.

Jason Bohannon:

In a second half where UW scored just 21 points, including a miserable six points over the final 10 minutes of the game, Jason Bohannon was the lone bright spot. While Hughes and Nankivil were clanking every shot to the tune of a 0-for-15 shooting display in the second half, Bohannon was carrying the load for an offense that desperately needed a spark.

Of Bohannon's team high 15 points, 13 came in the second half. He hit three shots from downtown and collected three rebounds that helped keep the Badgers in the game. But in the end, it wasn't quite enough.

The bad:

Defending the pick and pop:

Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said after the game that when preparing to play Wisconsin, he focuses mainly on film where the Badgers opponent has success. So naturally, as evidenced by the way his team ran the pick and pop, Weber focused on UW's loss at Purdue last month.

With Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale making a blistering 68 percent of their combined shots, Illinois struck gold with the pick and pop offense.

"The first thing I said to the players in shoot around today was we can get pick and pops," Weber said following the game. "Once we started to kind of figure that out, we just kind of exploited it."

A lot of that success came from McCamey, who not only scored a game high 27 points, but also dished seven assists.

"Early, he kicked it back to Tisdale," Weber said. "Then they stayed with Tisdale an then he drove in. He wouldn't have done that last year or two years ago. So you can run ball screens but you've got to have guys that can deliver it."

Charity stripe woes:

One thing Bo Ryan has shaped his program around is the way his team usually makes more free throws than the opponent attempts. Recently, though, that has not been the case.

Over the past three games, Wisconsin has shot four, 12, and nine free throws against Michigan State, Michigan and Illinois. As if those limited attempts weren't bad enough, the fact that UW is shooting only 56 percent from the line during that stretch turns UW's free throw woes into a nightmare.

Following the game, Ryan claimed the Badgers became a bit "gun-shy" after they drove the lane and weren't able to get to the line. As a result, UW shot 29 three-pointers. And though the three ball has been kind to the Badgers of late, it can easily turn its back on a team in a flash.

That is what happened Tuesday night.

THE UGLY:

The final 10 minutes:

Wisconsin has been in precarious positions at home on several occasions this season but always found a way out. So, when Jordan Taylor hit a jumper with just less than 10 minutes to play to cut the Illini lead to one, it seemed the Badgers were setting up another exciting finish inside the Kohl Center.

Instead, from that point on, UW only hit two more shots and scored six more points in a loss that snapped a 51-game winning streak against non-ranked Big Ten opponents at home.

"When we were down four, five or six points we were pulling it a little quicker than maybe we would like," Ryan said. "But we didn't have any other choice because we were playing against the clock. We've taken those shots and made a high percentage of them."

Wisconsin is known to go on long scoring droughts where getting the ball in the net is about as hard as getting teeth pulled, but the fact UW suffered a cold shooting spell at the end of the game amplified its wrath.

Had UW started the first ten minutes of the game in a similar fashion, much like Illinois actually did, the Badgers might have very well bounced back from it and come out on the winning side.

But that wasn't the way it was meant to be.

Taylor missed an open layup that would have cut the lead to two with just less than two minutes to play and the team had several three-point attempts go halfway in only to pop out. For whatever reason, it seemed like UW was trying to hit a bull's eye while Illinois was trying to hit water when throwing a rock off a boat.

Illinois shot 53 percent from the field to UW's 36 percent. At one point, Illinois hit 10 straight shots at the end of the first half and into the second half.

"How many teams have we played where those guys had those jump shots, had those opportunities and not shot that percentage," Ryan inferred. "But sooner or later it catches up to you and a team does that. The problem is when you're not putting points on the board it just doesn't look good. But you knew it had to happen sooner or later where we were going to go dry.

"We just picked a bad time to do it."



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