Men’s basketball team ends No. 11 Badgers’ home win streak

MADISON, Wis. — They did it.

The Illini started Wisconsin’s unbeaten streak at home on Feb. 5, 2009, and on Tuesday night, they were the ones to end it.

Illinois came out weak but finished strong to upset No. 11 Wisconsin, 63-56, at the Kohl Center, ending the Big Ten’s longest active home winning streak at 18 games. The win, coupled with Michigan State’s loss to Purdue, moves Illinois into a first-place tie in the conference.

After starting slow, Demetri McCamey led the Illini to their fifth straight win, scoring 27 points and dishing out seven assists. The junior guard has now averaged nearly 23 points per contest in his last three games.

“After I got a couple of jump shots, I started feeling good,” McCamey said. “I just knew I had to take over and help my team to a win.”

Junior center Mike Tisdale aided McCamey in the paint, contributing 19 points. Junior forwards Bill Cole and Mike Davis had eight rebounds apiece.

Head coach Bruce Weber’s squad has now defeated two ranked teams in four days.

“To come back after Michigan State on Saturday night with GameDay, the excitement and the win, and to come up here and keep our poise, and have a great focus and start slow but still kind of find a way to just grind it out. I couldn’t be more excited and proud of our kids,” Weber said.

The Illini contained senior guard Jason Bohannon in the first half Tuesday, but he found his way after the break. Bohannon led the Badger attack with 15 points and six rebounds on the night, but his effort wasn’t enough.

“We were right in position to the end of the game until the final two or three minutes when we had to start fouling,” Bohannon said. “We just had to find a way to make those final shots, and we didn’t.”

Wisconsin got off to a quick 8-0 start in front of a home crowd that hadn’t seen its team lose in Madison in more than a year. Bo Ryan’s squad was 6-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half and leading 35-33 at the break.

McCamey, coming off a 22-point performance against Michigan State, didn’t make a field goal for almost 14 minutes, as the Badgers were all over him. Tisdale stepped up in his place, scoring 10 points in the first 13 minutes for the Illini. But McCamey finally broke the Badger barrier to go on a roll, finishing the first half with 16 points, including nine points from beyond the arc in the last three minutes.

“I know I get after Demetri, but after the start he was sure good,” Weber said.

Illinois has now ended two of Wisconsin’s five longest home win streaks — the other one coming in 2005, when the Illini ended the Badgers’ 38-game home win streak.

But Illinois must keep its poise with a month remaining in Big Ten play.

“Now, we’ve got ourselves as a contender, but we’ve got a long way to go and a very tough schedule ahead of us,” Weber said.