CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Nigel Hayes scored 17 points, Bronson Koenig added 11 and Wisconsin beat Illinois 63-55 on Sunday night for the Badgers’ fourth straight victory.
Wisconsin (13-9, 5-4 Big Ten) fell behind the Illini (10-12, 2-7) early but took its first lead at 23-22 on a dunk by Khalil Iverson with 4:56 left in the first half and never trailed again. Iverson finished with a career-high 10 points.
The Illini closed to within 55-50 with 1:02 to play on a 3-pointer by Kendrick Nunn. But Hayes hit six free throws in the last minute to ice the game.
Malcolm Hill led Illinois with 22 points.
Starting Illini forward Michael Finke left the game with an apparent knee injury in the second half after a collision with Hayes. Nunn also struggled after a collision, leaving for the locker room during the second half but returning late.
Illinois coach John Groce said in a postgame radio interview that he believed neither injury was serious but that Finke would have an MRI.
Illinois went up 18-10 midway through the first half on a jump shot by Hill. But the Badgers responded with a 15-4 run to go up 25-22.
The Badgers only hit two 3-pointers on the night, going 2 for 14, but they went 17 for 20 at the free throw line — all of them in the second half — and scored 22 points in the paint against an out-manned Illinois. The Illini scored just eight points inside.
Illinois has now lost seven of its last nine.