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Poetry in Motion: Wisconsin rallies to beat Illinois, 69-60

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A poor shooting performance dug the Badgers a 13-point deficit with just over 12 minutes remaining. Over those final 12 minutes, Wisconsin outscored Illinois 36-14 to walk out of the Kohl Center victorious. Ethan Happ led the way with 20 points, 12 rebounds and six steals.

Hosting Illinois,

Wisconsin's going got tough.

Then they got going.

A game full of runs,

The Badgers got the last laugh.

69, 60./

"We're resilient

And I guess we matured a

Little bit tonight," Wisconsin point guard Bronson Koenig said./

Among the leading

Contributors to that cause

Was a young freshman./

20 points, 12 boards:

Happ's showing was luminous

As he led his team./

"I thought he was really good. He's tough to cover one on one. He's such a good ball handler down there and he has really good balance," Illinois head coach John Groce said.

Trailing by 13,

Wisconsin then flipped the switch.

17 straight points./

With shots not falling,

Badgers stayed resilient

With free throws aiding./

Shooting from the stripe,

Wisconsin made 33

And Illinois, 10./

The shooting fortunes

Shifted completely, as well,

To spark Wisconsin./

To close, scoring on

All but two possessions

Out of their 20./

There were lots of runs.

The game could have been confused

For a marathon./

The Badgers struck first.

12 straight points from the starters,

Leading by four points./

That lead was short-lived.

The Illini responded.

12 unanswered points./

A 9-to-2 run

To open the second half

Buried the Badgers./

But this group battles.

It has been the season's theme.

On Sunday? Same old./

They resurrected

Over the last 12 minutes

Like it was Easter./

"They did not flinch, they would not wilt at all," Badgers head coach Greg Gard said. "And when things weren't going well at all, kept digging in and finding a way."

Seven minutes passed

Without an Illini score.

Oh how the tides turned./

Hayes, Brown and Koenig

Drew their squad within seven,

Unleashing the crowd./

Koenig's clutch triple

Tied the game at 46.

Hayes then snatched the lead./

Free throws iced the game.

As they shot 12-for-14.

Winning eight of nine./

Hayes scored 17,

While Koenig added 14.

Vitto Brown scored nine./

The first half was rough.

Wisconsin's shots rarely fell.

29 percent./

Their play prompted Gard.

His speech may have used choice words,

But the gist follows./

"The message was ‘Stay true to our identity,'" Gard said he told his team at halftime. "'We know what has made us successful, let's get back to that.'"

"I thought we settled for two-point jump shots in stretches in the first half, where in the second half, we were more determined to play with two feet in the paint. And by getting to the free throw line and seeing the ball go in I think it gave Nigel some more confidence, it gave Ethan some confidence. I think it helped Bronson too to get up there and see the ball go in and get a little mojo going."

Happ, stealer of things

Finished the game with six steals.

Deft like Robin Hood./

In the second half,

The Badgers scored 1.5

Points per possession./

Wisconsin's comeback

Reminded Hayes of times past.

Two Final Four runs./

"Bronson and I could tell you from last year when we were playing, there were always moments where we were down, whether it be 13 or whatever, we would always give each other a look saying, ‘Let's turn this around.' We kind of did that.

"We knew that in order to reach the goals that we have, we had to take care of business and turn this around. And we did."

Goals remain intact.

NCAA Tournament.

March is approaching./