CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Dee Brown sat on the bench more than he had all season. He was on the court down the stretch, however, and hit two long
3-pointers to seal unbeaten and top-ranked Illinois' 70-59 victory over Wisconsin (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today; No. 20 AP) on Saturday.
"Those were daggers," said teammate Deron Williams, who hit two key 3-pointers to ignite a 10-0 run early in the second half that erased a one-point
Wisconsin lead and put the Illini (25-0, 11-0 Big Ten) in control.
"These guys got me the ball in good position," Brown said looking at Williams and Luther Head, who led the Illini with 26 points. "I just set my feet
and took a couple of shots."
The Illini tied the school record with their 25th consecutive win. That streak was set over three seasons from February 1914 to February 1916. It was
Illinois' 19th straight win at home and was played before a record Assembly Hall crowd of 16,865.
Head's 26 points tied his season high and came without benefit of a 3-pointer. He was 12-of-13 from the free-throw line.
But it was Brown who brought the crowd's loudest roar of the day.
Just after picking up his fourth foul, he hit the first big 3 with 3:10 to go and only 2 seconds remaining on the shot clock. It ended a 6-2 run by
the Badgers and gave Illinois a 57-49 lead.
"Every time they made a run, we made a shot," Brown said.
The Badgers (16-6, 7-4) got a basket from Kammron Taylor and Illinois' Roger Powell Jr. hit two free throws to make it 59-51 before Brown pushed
Illinois' lead to double figures for the first time with an NBA-range jumper with 1:43 left that made it 62-51. He finished 4-of-6 from 3-point
"When a guy hits a 3 from that range, you don't have an answer for that," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.
Brown finished with 16 points in a season-low 26 minutes. Williams scored 15 points.
Alando Tucker scored 24 points for the Badgers (16-6, 7-4). Mike Wilkinson scored only two points in the second half after helping keep the Badgers
close early and finished with eight points, the first time in 15 games he scored fewer than 10.
"They worked me in the post trying to move around and make the entry passes tough," Wilkinson said. "They did a good job pressuring (our) guards.
Sometimes it's hard to get the ball in the post."
Wisconsin trailed 27-26 at halftime and started the second half with two free throws from Tucker to take its third and last lead of the game. Williams
went down court and hit the first of two straight 3-pointers to give the Illini a 30-28 lead and ignite what would be the decisive run. He hit again
from long range 40 seconds later and then hit a short jumper from the lane that put Illinois ahead 35-28. Head hit two of his 12 free throws to finish
Illinois took a 14-8 lead on Brown's 3-pointer with 11:16 to go in the first half. But a basket and a free throw by Tucker and a layup from Wilkinson
brought the Badgers right back.
The two big men combined for 13 of the Badgers' 26 first-half points and together grabbed 10 rebounds.
"We were looking to attack the inside," Tucker said. "We started out doing that good and tried to make a run but we fell from that. We stopped going
inside. We stopped going to Wilkinson."
The foul trouble struck Illinois early. Powell was hit with two fouls in the first 3 minutes and Brown sat the final 6:50 of the first half with two
The Illini obviously missed his presence on the floor. They struggled to find open shots and were just 4-of-10 while Brown was on the bench, finishing
the half shooting 38 percent.
Powell picked up his third foul 16 seconds into the second half and Brown got his less than 2 minutes in. But coach Bruce Weber stuck with both and
the Illini went on the decisive run.
"I felt if we didn't get going at the start of the second half that we were playing into their hands," Weber said. "That's why I kind of hesitated
taking Dee out."
Wisconsin had big trouble from the foul line, hitting only 7-of-16. The Badgers also committed 14 turnovers.