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Wisconsin men’s basketball: UW struggles from three in loss to Kofi Cockburn and Illinois

Kofi Cockburn and Illinois hand the Badgers their third Big Ten loss.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team (17-4 overall, 8-3 Big Ten) took their talents on the road Wednesday night for a matchup with No. 18 Illinois (16-5 overall, 9-2 Big Ten) in Champaign, Ill. Coming into the game as 7-point underdogs, the Badgers were unable to stop Kofi Cockburn and the Fighting Illini, falling by 13.

Illinois took an early 7-6 lead after the first few minutes, largely thanks to the inside presence of star big man Kofi Cockburn as he exchanged baskets with UW forward Tyler Wahl.

The two teams would continue to go back and forth with little resistance. By the next media timeout, both squads were shooting 50% from the floor as the Badgers were able to establish a three-point advantage.

Illinois would manage to tie the score up by the 7:29 mark behind eight points from forward Jacob Gradison, even as Wisconsin made a living inside and from the free-throw line. Over the next four minutes, Steven Crowl and Chris Vogt would get into foul trouble as Cockburn went to work against the Wisconsin bigs. The Fighting Illini would take a six-point lead with 2:25 left to play largely thanks to 18 points from Cockburn and some ice-cold shooting from three for Wisconsin.

Johnny Davis and the Badgers would chip away late, but in the end, Illinois took a four-point lead into the half.

Illinois went on a 9-0 run shortly after the break to take a 12-point lead with 15 minutes to go as the Badgers continued to struggle with jump shots.

Wisconsin would find a change in fortune by going inside but were unable to take full advantage of Illinois missing seven of eight shots over the next few minutes. With 12:11 remaining on the clock, Illinois still held a nine-point advantage.

Lorne Bowman would make the team’s first three-point attempt and hit consecutive baskets to pull the Badgers within six midway through the half though, even with the team struggling with foul trouble.

A quick 8-0 run by Illinois would drastically shift the momentum back to the Fighting Illini however, and with 4:30 remaining Illinois was up by 14.

In the end, Illinois would hold on to win by 13 points to claim first place in the Big Ten standings.

Notable stat lines:

  • Johnny Davis —> 22 points (5-of-19 from the floor), 15 rebounds, two assists
  • Tyler Wahl —> 14 points (7-of-11 from the floor), six rebounds
  • Kofi Cockburn (Illinois) —> 37 points (16-of-19 from the floor), 12 rebounds

Up next: Wisconsin will look to bounce back at home this Saturday against Penn State. Tip time is set for 5 p.m. CT and will be aired on Big Ten Network.