Basketball suffers loss to Wisconsin



By Jeff LaBelle

CHAMPAIGN – Nothing went right for Illinois against the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers Wednesday night, and it wasn’t just the final score, a 71-57 loss, that had head coach Bruce Weber reeling.

Freshman guard Demetri McCamey didn’t have the right attitude before the game, and teammates voted to not allow him to start. Senior leader Brian Randle, with less than 10 games remaining in his college career, left the game in the first half with a sprained shoulder that could end his season and may require surgery.

“Brian goes down, he’s one of our best defenders our best leaders,” Weber said. “That hurt.”

“My heart goes out to him. He could be out the rest of the season to be honest.”

“That definitely hurts for someone like him. He’s one of our leaders,” junior Trent Meacham said. “We can’t think about that during the game.”

As soon as the crowd got into it after Illinois pulled to within nine with a few minutes to go, Wisconsin’s Jason Bohannon, Marcus Landry and Trevon Hughes ended the comeback attempt. The three combined for 50 points and were no match for anything Illinois threw at them.

“You got to give a lot of credit to Wisconsin. Their strengths are our weaknesses,” Weber said. “Every time you give them an inch they use it. They’re so efficient.”

McCamey, the catalyst in the final run that brought the Illini within striking distance, didn’t go down without a fight. He scored all of his 18 points in the second half, five of which came in two possessions to bring the Illini to within 11.

Despite the points, Weber said he wasn’t all pleased with the guard.

“If he doesn’t do it with the right attitude, he’s going to have trouble making progress,” Weber said. “He just has to be coachable.”

“I’m going to demand perfection from him,” he added. “He has to learn to listen.”

Shaun Pruitt did what he could, adding 16 points and Meacham scored 10.

The crowd stayed into it after sitting through 38 foul calls in the first 30 minutes of action as well as 28 turnovers.

Meacham said that losing 12 of the last 16 games is getting to him and his teammates.

“That’s hard too, that’s frustrating,” Meacham said. “But we’re still playing basketball. In each game we’re still playing Big Ten basketball. Hopefully we can finish the season strong.”

After the game, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said the effort he saw from Illinois and the talent on the roster, leads him to believe they could go on a run to end the season.

“They could win three in a row,” Ryan said. “They’re a good team.”

“A couple of those games could have gone the other way,” he added. “They had some looks that didn’t go down, and we had some guys that made some pretty tough plays,”

McCamey, who scored 31 points against Indiana on Feb. 7, said he didn’t go into the game looking to score, but once he saw the lack of scoring, he started gunning for the basket.

“I found my way to the hoop,” McCamey said.

“I got to find the flow, whatever the flow of the game is. Whatever the coach wants me to do.”

“The first job of a point guard is to get his teammates involved, but if he has to score to get his team back in, that’s what he has to do,” McCamey added.