Ethan Happ scored 16 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out five assists Friday night as Wisconsin broke out of an offensive to beat Illinois 75-50.
Happ was one of four Badgers (10-10, 3-4 Big Ten) who scored in double figures, led by Brad Davison’s 18.
The win snapped a streak of three straight conference losses in which the Badgers failed to score more than 60 points. But they cracked that mark with more than 11 minutes in the game, and their 43 points to open the contest was their best mark for a half in Big Ten play this season.
Illinois (10-10) has now lost seven straight Big Ten games to open conference play. For the first six, it was by an average of 3.5 points. But this one got away early. Down 24-18 with 8:37 left in the first half, Illinois watched the Badgers go on a 16-6 run over the next five minutes to take control.
The Illini outrebounded the Badgers 31-29. But they were 1 of 14 from 3-point range and shot 40 percent overall.
Leron Black scored 16 to lead Illinois, while Trent Frazier added 11.
Illinois: Few Big Ten coaches look for moral victories. But at least Illinois, which lost two-thirds of its minutes from last year’s NIT squad, could say it had been competitive in its first six conference losses. That wasn’t the case Friday.
Wisconsin: Where was this at Rutgers, at Nebraska or at Purdue? After scuffling on the road since a 71-61 win over Indiana at home on Jan. 2, the Badgers finally found their footing offensively.
Illinois: The Illini host Michigan State on Tuesday.
Wisconsin: The Badgers travel to Iowa on Wednesday.