Turnovers badger weak Illini offense

By Jason Grodsky

The No. 11 ranked Wisconsin Badgers lived up to their nickname on the defensive end of the court Wednesday night.

Wisconsin’s defense badgered the Illini offense all night to earn a 71-57 victory, their fourth straight over Illinois.

The Badgers forced the Illini to commit 20 turnovers, one below their season high set at Purdue. Wisconsin scored 15 points off the Illini miscues while the Badgers turned the ball over only eight times.

“Their defense is tough, but we shot our own foot with the turnovers,” junior guard Trent Meacham said. “When you have 20 turnovers and six assists you’re not going to get it done, especially against Wisconsin.”

The Badgers came into the game with the conference’s best scoring defense, holding opponents to 55.4 points per game and forcing 14.3 turnovers per game. This was the fourth time this season Wisconsin had forced 20-plus turnovers in a game.

“You have to give a lot of credit to (Wisconsin),” head coach Bruce Weber said. “Anytime you give them an inch they take it.”

Randle injured again

Senior forward Brain Randle left the game with 12:58 remaining in the first half with a sprained right shoulder and did not return.

Randle, who has been plagued by injuries his entire career, ran into a screen set by a Wisconsin player and immediately grabbed his right shoulder.

Team Athletic Trainer Al Martindale assisted Randle to the locker room following the collision. He returned to the court with ice on the shoulder and watched the remainder of the game from the bench. Weber said Randle would have an MRI on Thursday and may need surgery and miss the remainder of the season.

“(Brian) is one of our defensive leaders and to lose him hurt,” Weber said. “My heart goes out to him. He’s a great kid that truly cares and this is his fourth or fifth major injury.”

Chief gone, but not forgotten

One day away from the anniversary of the Chief’s last dance at the Assembly Hall, students showed their support for the former symbol of the University.

In an attempt to “blackout” the stadium during halftime of Illinois’ game against Wisconsin Wednesday night, some students replaced their traditional orange shirts with a black shirt with the chief logo during the playing of the “Three-in-One” at halftime.

The event was planned by the student organization Students For Chief Illiniwek.