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Wisconsin holds off Illinois in 64-58 win

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Key role players again contribute in the home win.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

MADISON—The Wisconsin Badgers rebounded from another rough start on offense to pull away from Illinois in a 64-58 win at the Kohl Center on Monday night.

Sophomore guard Brad Davison scored a game-high 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. Senior forward Khalil Iverson recorded a season-high 16 points with nine rebounds in another huge game against Illinois.

Once again making key plays off the bench, redshirt junior guard Brevin Pritzl scored six points but grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. Sophomore forward Nate Reuvers also contributed nine points, five rebounds and three blocks in the win for Wisconsin (18-8, 10-5 Big Ten).

Illinois (10-6, 6-9) held redshirt senior forward Ethan Happ to just six points and three rebounds. However, Brad Underwood’s squad shot only 37.5 percent from the field for the game and 31.6 from three-point range on way to its season low in points.

Ayo Dosunmu scored a team-high 13 points for Illinois but shot just 4-of-15 from the field. Aaron Jordan tallied 12 points while Giorgi Bezhanishvili recorded 10 points in the loss. Wisconsin also contained Illinois’ leading scorer, Trent Frazier, to only eight points on 3-of-10 shooting on the evening.

UW did not shoot much better than its opponent on Monday night, making 40 percent of their attempts (22 of 55)—27.8 percent from deep (five of 18). That was due in part to a terrible shooting performance in the first half.

Illinois led by as much as eight points but Wisconsin pulled it to within a 26-25 deficit at halftime. Both teams shot poorly in the first 20 minutes, for that matter. The Badgers connected on only 32.1 percent (nine of 28) of their attempts, while the Illini made 34.6 percent from the field (nine of 26).

UW made just two of 10 from three-point range in those first 20 minutes and also suffered another scoring drought—this time a 4:34 stretch—but still stayed close. Iverson recorded six points while pulling down five rebounds in the first half, and his dunk with less than a second remaining close the gap to one heading into the locker room.

The teams went back and forth with the lead for about the first six minutes of the second half until an Iverson 4-0 run gave Wisconsin a two-point advantage with 13:15 remaining. That was part of a broader 6-0 run, as a Pritzl bucket made it a two-possession game at the 12:34 mark.

UW held the lead for over nine minutes until Dosunmu connected on an “and-one” after Kobe King fouled him. That tied it up at 52-52 with 4:06 to play.

Happ, whose turnover led to the Dosunmu three-point play, sat on the bench for that last 4:06 of the game.

Yet Wisconsin pushed back. Davison exploded on a 4-0 run of his own to regain a lead that UW would not relinquish. His jumper was followed by an Iverson swat of a Bezhanishvili layup, and Davison grabbed the loose ball to go all the way for a layup to put the Badgers up 56-52 with 2:45 left.

Like many of these conference games, the contest stayed within one to two possessions late as Illinois kept clawing back. An Andres Feliz layup brought the Illini to within 58-56 with 82 seconds remaining, but Davison showed up clutch with two free throws to put the advantage back up to four with 57 seconds remaining.

After two Dosunmu free throws cut the game to one possession once again, Pritzl missed what could have been a critical three-pointer. Reuvers found a crease in the paint, grabbed the offensive board and got the putback to make it 62-58 with 27 seconds remaining.

Illinois took a timeout, but on the ensuing possession, Iverson stole the ball and drew a foul. He made one of two from the line to put the Badgers up five with 13 seconds to play. Dosunmu and Bezhanishvili missed layups on Illinois’ next possession thereafter, and Pritzl came down with his 10th rebound. After being fouled, he made one of two free throws to seal the victory.

Iverson scored 10 of his 16 points, while Davison recorded 12 of his 18 points, in the second half. The duo also made 12 of 16 free throws in the game—going nine of 12 in the final 20 minutes.