MADISON, Wis. (WCIA) — Illinois basketball didn’t win at Wisconsin but even competing at the Kohl Center is a sign of improvement for a team that dropped its program opponent record 15th-straight game to the Badgers.
The Illini (10-16, 6-9) had the Badgers (18-8, 10-5) doubled up for most of the first half before a second half run saw Wisconsin take as much as a six-point lead. But instead of letting that lead grow to double-digits, Illinois found a way to hang around and had it down to one possession at 60-58 with less than a minute to play. It’s a sign of growth and maturity that second year head coach Brad Underwood says is encouraging.
“They feel like they’ve arrived and I mean that in the standpoint that they can beat anybody,” Underwood said about his players. “Maybe that’s what our non-league schedule did, helped prepare us for that. We might have 16 or 17 or 18 wins had we played the cupcake schedule that some teams play, we haven’t. We’ve played the No. 2 schedule in the country so I think we have arrived and I think we’ve proven that and I believe in these guys and I know one thing. I sure as heck wouldn’t want to play Illinois.”
The Illini sit in 9th place in the Big Ten and host last place Penn State Saturday morning at 11 a.m.