There wasn’t a whole lot of action on Wednesday night — only two games to be exact. However, one game was a lot of fun to watch while the other was a clunker.
Regardless, the Big Ten was a perfect 2-0 on Wednesday with both Wisconsin and Illinois picking up home victories. The Badgers went down to the wire against Western Kentucky, and won on an interesting final play. Illinois took it to Longwood, winning by nearly 50 points.
Let’s take a look at how each game played out.
Game of the Night
-Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 80, Wisconsin Badgers 81
It wasn’t pretty but Wisconsin found a way to sneak by the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Wednesday night to improve to 5-7 on the season.
It was a one-point thriller, but the way the game ended was not necessarily one that Badgers fans should be proud of. Wisconsin let the Hilltoppers crawl back into this game, surrendering a five-point lead in the final minute after Western Kentucky guard Darius Thompson hit a jumper to tie the game with two second left. Following a timeout, Brad Davison drew a charge on the inbound pass by Marek Nelson as he was chasing the inbounder on the baseline. Possibly the oldest trick in the book sent Davison to the free throw line where he hit the first one and intentionally missed the second as the Badgers survived a scare from the Hilltoppers.
The entire final play can be seen in the highlight below. Let’s see what your thoughts are on this finish.
Kind of a cheap way to win, right? Well, come March it won’t really matter how Wisconsin won this game, just that they did.
Wisconsin was led offensively by Ethan Happ and Brevin Pritzl, who each finished with 17 points. The Badgers also got strong nights out of Davison and Aleem Ford, who scored 16 and 14 points respectively. Only one Badgers starter didn’t reach double-digits in points.
This win snaps a two-game losing streak for Wisconsin, and sets up a stretch that should see some more wins before Big Ten play resumes in January. Next up for the Badgers is Green Bay on Saturday. After that Wisconsin hosts Chicago State and UMass Lowell to wrap up non-conference play. Win these next three — like they should — and Wisconsin will be back above .500 once we hit the fullswing of the conference slate.
-Longwood Lancers 45, Illinois Fighting Illini 92
The only other Big Ten game on Wednesday was a laugher between Illinois and Longwood, with the Fighting Illini picking up a 47-point victory.
The Lancers held a 12-10 lead with 12:27 left in the first half, but after that it was all Illinois. The Fighting Illini would end the half on a 40-12 run to blow this game open. It only got worse in the second half, with Illinois leading by as many as 51 points.
Aaron Jordan was the star on Wednesday night for Illinois, finishing with 22 points on 8-for-15 from the field. He also snagged down eight rebounds and had two assists. Freshman Trent Frazier had a career-high 20 points and junior Michael Finke kept his strong season going with 19 points against Longwood.
As a team, Illinois shot 46.6 percent from the field and 32.4 percent (11-of-34) from three-point range. The Fighting Illini were also strong on the defensive end, forcing 24 turnovers by the Lancers.
With the win, Illinois improves to 8-4 on the season. Illinois is now 8-1 at home, with its lone loss coming in overtime by one point against Maryland. The Fighting Illini return to the court on Saturday against New Mexico State at the United Center in Chicago. The Aggies are an impressive 8-2 so far this year, and could give Illinois a decent matchup.