McCamey scores 27 in llinois’ upset win
Demetri McCamey scored 27 points, and Mike Tisdale added 19 on 8-of-11 shooting to lead Illinois to a 63-56 upset over No. 11 Wisconsin, snapping the Badgers’ 51-0 home record against unranked Big Ten opponents under coach Bo Ryan.
“It’s even greater tonight than Saturday, because we put ourselves in real good position,” McCamey said. “We got a road win in one of the toughest places to play in college basketball, so it just means so much more to beat a good Wisconsin team.”
The Illini (17-8, 9-3) ended Wisconsin’s 18-game home winning streak, but more important, Illinois won its fifth straight game after a 78-73 win over then-No. 5 Michigan State last weekend that featured fans rushing the court.
This one was so much better because the Illini are now in prime position to challenge the Spartans for the regular-season conference title.
“This thing, I told our guys before, could make up for some of the early setbacks,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. “No one beats them here.”
The schedule isn’t easy for Illinois, which plays four more ranked teams in its final six games, including two games with No. 13 Ohio State beginning at home on Sunday and a rematch with the Badgers in the regular-season finale.
“Now we’ve got ourselves where we’re a little bit of a contender, but a long way to go and a very tough schedule ahead of us,” said Weber, the only coach with three wins against Ryan in Madison.
It was a shock for Wisconsin (18-6, 8-4), which got 15 points from Jason Bohannon, 13 in the second half, and 12 from Trevon Hughes. The Badgers are 133-11 under Ryan at home and hadn’t lost to any unranked opponent in more than four years.
Just how disappointed was the Badgers’ locker room with this performance?
“Next (question),” Ryan said after a 6-second pause.
The Badgers built a 22-11 lead while only Tisdale could find the basket, hitting every field goal for the Illini until just over six minutes to play in the first half.
“Tis’ kept us in (it), and I just knew I had to take over and help my team to a victory,” McCamey said.
McCamey, the Big Ten player of the week for his performances against Iowa and the Spartans, scored 15 of Illinois’ final 20 points of the half and the Illini hit 10 consecutive shots straddling halftime to erase the double-digit deficit.
“Early, I was sitting there, I’m worried. Here he just came off player of the week,” Weber said. “I was thinking this is what we’ve been going through for three years, because every time he has something good and you compliment him, he seems to go back to his old ways.”
Instead, McCamey and his teammates kept clicking and finally broke through late after Wisconsin tied it at 53-all with 5:16 left on a three-pointer by Bohannon.
D.J. Richardson and McCamey answered with jumpers to push the lead to 57-53, and Wisconsin went cold, going scoreless for five minutes. The Badgers missed nine consecutive shots down the stretch, including a layup by Taylor with just over two minutes to play and three-pointers by Keaton Nankivil, Taylor, Hughes and Bohannon.
“We just had to find a way to make those shots, and they didn’t happen to go down tonight,” Bohannon said.
McCamey hit one free throw with 58 seconds left, and Richardson added two more 16 seconds later to give Illinois a 60-53 lead.
Wisconsin went up 22-11 on a four-point play by Hughes, while the 7-foot-1 Tisdale hit six of his first seven shots. His teammates, meanwhile, missed 10 in a row until McCamey’s layup with just over 6 minutes left until halftime. McCamey went on to hit three consecutive 3-pointers to end the half, rallying the Illini perhaps for the rest of the season.
“Our last stretch is real tough. We’ve got three of the top 15 teams in the country—Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State. We got two, and we’re trying to get another Sunday to make it even sweeter and keep us in the race for the Big Ten championship,” McCamey said.
“We can’t be happy (just) off this win. We’ve got to keep it going. Celebrate tonight, then get back to business when we have practice on Thursday.”