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Wisconsin men’s basketball: three things that stood out against Illinois

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A look back at what led to the Badgers 13-point loss.

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

The Wisconsin Badgers dropped their third conference game of the year on Wednesday night on the road versus Illinois. The end result was fairly inevitable considering the way the Badgers shot and the play of Illini big man Kofi Cockburn, but let’s look into what else stood out from the 13-point loss.

Three things that stood out...

No. 1: 3-point goose egg

Playing in the middle of a snowstorm, Wisconsin’s three-point shooting was ice cold in the first half. The Badgers missed all nine of their shot attempts from behind the arc, despite some easy looks. Conversely, Illinois shot 50% from three and made four threes to swing the game in their favor in the first 20 minutes.

In the second half, it was more of the same. The Badgers could not hit quality looks outside the paint, and ultimately it doomed them. Wisconsin finished the game shooting only 12.5% (3-of-24) from behind the three-point line, partially propped up by a last-second three in garbage time.

No. 2: Star power

Johnny Davis and Kofi Cockburn came into Wednesday's contest two of the leading contenders for not only Big Ten Player of the Year, but also the Naismith Trophy.

Both players showed why at times.

Johnny Davis nearly had his second straight game with a double-double in the first half alone and managed to finish with 22 points and 15 rebounds. While his jump shot was way off all night long, he found ways to impact the game throughout.

On the other side, Cockburn was basically unguardable. The 7-footer was dominant from start to finish and absolutely took it to the Wisconsin front court. He finished with 37 points on 84% shooting and showed why he is one of the very best in college basketball. Cockburn has always played well against the Badgers, and this was arguably his best performance.

Cockburn’s entire repertoire was on full display, and he definitely got the better of the Davis in Champaign.

No. 3: Lorne Bowman

In a game that had very few bright spots, the play of Lorne Bowman stood out. Even with the rest of the team unable to make seemingly anything outside the paint, the young guard hit some big shots that gave Wisconsin a chance midway through the second half and also added some big rebounds.

The shooting woes and dominant play from Cockburn definitely were the primary storylines, but it was nice to see Bowman put together some nice minutes off the bench. The Wisconsin bench, in general, outscored Illinois, and Bowman was a big reason why. Add in the fact that he led the team in terms of +/- and it was a solid performance that hopefully, he can build on moving forward.

Up next: Wisconsin will be 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.