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Wisconsin finishes strong in 78–69 win over Illinois

A big W for the Badgers.

The Wisconsin Badgers snapped a five-game losing streak in firm fashion on the road Thursday night, in a performance that would not allow their Big Ten opponents to retake the lead for the final 10:51 of the game.

Against Illinois inside the State Farm Center in Champaign on Thursday night, Wisconsin did not falter late, finishing strong in a 78–69 win.

Redshirt junior forward Ethan Happ led Wisconsin (11–15, 4–9 Big Ten) with a team-high 27 points while also dishing out eight assists and grabbing six rebounds in the win.

Snapping back from a rough couple of games, redshirt sophomore guard Brevin Pritzl contributed 15 points (shooting 3-of-3 from three-point range) with six rebounds plus two assists and steals a piece.

UW shot 53.2 percent from the field (25 of 47), including draining eight of 15 attempts (53.3 percent) from three-point range.

That was aided by a strong second-half shooting performance, with the team connecting on 14 of 24 attempts from the field overall (58.3 percent) and draining four of its seven three-point attempts in the final 20 minutes.

Illinois (12–13, 2–10), on the other hand, only shot 38.2 percent from the field (21 of 55) and 37.5 percent (nine of 24) from beyond the arc.

One bright spot for Brad Underwood’s squad was guard Trent Frazier, who scored a game-high 32 points on 10-of-20 shooting (7-of-11 on three-point attempts). Forward Leron Black added 13 points and 11 rebounds in the loss. Though Frazier and Black connected on 16 of 32 field-goal attempts, the rest of the team only connected on five of 23 shots for the game.

Wisconsin took a 36–33 lead into halftime with Happ starting the game in a dominating fashion with 16 points in the first half.

The game was tied at three separate moments in the second half, with Frazier scoring 22 of his 32 points during the final 20 minutes in a near Herculean performance. The Badgers did not lose the lead after going ahead 54–52, however, with Happ’s jumper giving UW a two-point advantage with 10:51 remaining in the game.

Wisconsin stretched the lead to as much as 10 points at 66–56 with 4:47 remaining after Pritzl connected with his second three-pointer of the contest.

In the last two games prior to Thursday night, Pritzl did not make a shot in 13 attempts.

Illinois would pull back in to within four points on two separate occasions later in the game thanks to Frazier—the last time with 2:23 remaining—but Wisconsin responded by converting seven of its last nine free-throw attempts.

True freshman guard Brad Davison scored 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting (2-of-4 from three-point range) with five assists, three rebounds, and only one turnover. Junior forward Khalil Iverson also secured nine rebounds.

Wisconsin only committed 10 turnovers while tallying 20 assists. UW also outscored Illinois in the paint (32–16) and off the bench (20–12).

That makes 13 straight wins by the Badgers over the Illini in their series.