Wisconsin 62, No. 20 Illinois 45
Feb. 13, 1997
MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ When the Wisconsin Badgers start having fun, look out.
Coach Dick Bennett's Badgers shut down No. 20 Illinois in the second half Wednesday night to post their third straight victory, 62-45. Wisconsin (14-7 overall, 7-5 Big Ten) has won five of six games.
``It was a lot of fun out there in the second half,'' said Sam Okey, who led the Badgers with 16 points. ``We were able to play them real tough defensively and we started to hurt them inside offensively. We just had a real good run.''
The Badgers rank first in nearly all defensive categories in the Big Ten, and they only improved those numbers against Illinois.
They held the Illini without a field goal for a 13-minute span in the second half as they turned a 34-29 deficit into a 52-35 lead with a 23-1 run.
The only Illinois point during that stretch came on Chris Gandy's free throw. Wisconsin then scored the next 21 points, led by Okey and Sean Daugherty with eight points each.
Illinois (17-7, 7-5) shot just 19 percent from the field in the second half (4-for-21) and was held to its season-low output for the second time by the Badger. The Illini's previous low came in Wisconsin's 73-56 victory at Champaign last month.
``They do things that good defensive teams do,'' said Illinois coach Lon Kruger, whose team managed just 13 points in the second half. ``They were sound, they had good awareness and they did an excellent job during that stretch.
``I thought we didn't execute very well during that stretch. We committed some turnovers that hurt us. We were searching a little bit and we lost our composure a bit.''
Wisconsin's defense has been especially effective against Illinois star Kiwane Garris, the Big Ten's leading scorer with a 20.7 average coming into the game.
Garris was held to just 13 points to lead the Illini, but he missed 13 of 16 field-goal attempts. In three games against Wisconsin over the past two seasons, Garris has made just eight of 43 shots and just one of 18 from 3-point range.
Bennett said the secret to defending Garris is to keep him from penetrating.
``It appears to me that the only way to defend Illinois is to keep Kiwane from getting in the lane,'' Bennett said. ``In the first half, every time he got in the lane he made something good happen. In the second half, we kept him out of the lane.''
Garris scored on Illinois' first possession of the second half. He also made the Illini's next basket _ with 6:33 remaining in the game. Kruger said that Garris might have been pressing during that drought.
``I think that's the tendency when things start sliding,'' Kruger said. ``The guys you look to for points try to do too much. He missed a couple that he could have made and then he started pressing.''
Daugherty had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Wisconsin.