Ryan earns record-tying 265th victory at UW
Fans also were able to see coach Bo Ryan tie Harold “Bud” Foster’s program record for victories with 265.
More important, however, UW’s 70-56 victory highlighted two programs heading in opposite directions for the foreseeable future.
UW (23-8, 12-6) enters the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis seeded No. 4 and will play the second game on Friday, at approximately 1:25 p.m. (Central).
The Badgers face the winner of the Thursday game between fifth-seeded Indiana (24-7, 11-7) and 12th-seeded Penn State (12-19, 4-14).
Illinois (17-14, 6-12), which has lost eight of its last nine games and 11 of its last 13, is seeded ninth in the tournament. The Illini will face eighth-seeded Iowa (16-15, 8-10) at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
Ryan was pleased to see his players handle the emotion of senior day.
“You watch across the country on senior day at a lot of places and you either get (high) or you get (low),” Ryan said. “Very rarely is it in-between.
“I thought our guys played at a high level. They stuck to who they were and didn’t get away from that ...
“It worked out pretty well, the fact we were able to get the game playing who we are.”
Ryan, with a record of 265-99 at UW in 10-plus seasons,
isn’t going anywhere as long as he remains healthy.
Illinois coach Bruce Weber, whose star has gradually dimmed since he led the Illini into the 2005 NCAA title game in his second season at the school, likely will be looking for work soon.
His overall record at Illinois (210-99) is impressive but the Illini (17-14, 6-12) have lost eight of their last night games and 11 of their last 13.
The 6-12 finish is the Illini’s second-worst ever in Big Ten play in Weber’s nine seasons. The worst mark was 5-13 in 2007-’08.
“We’ve been through a really tough stretch in our season,” Weber said, “and our lives, to be honest, for the kids and for our coaches.”
Five players scored at least eight points for UW.
Josh Gasser and Taylor led the way with 16 apiece, followed by Jared Berggren (12), Ryan Evans (10) and Wilson (eight).
Junior guard Brandon Paul scored 22 points for the Illini, who shot 25 percent in the first half in falling behind, 31-18, and finished the game with three assists and 10 turnovers.
UW closed the regular season with an easy victory thanks to two critical stretches.
The Badgers came out on fire by hitting three of three three-pointers and five of their first seven field-goal attempts to build a 14-2 lead just 5 minutes 38 seconds into the game.
Wilson hit both of his three-point attempts to spark the early run.
“We played very tentative to start the game and we spotted them 14-2,” Weber said, “and that pretty much was the game.
“After that, you’ve got to make some shots. And we just don’t make enough shots.”
Leading by 42-32 nearing the midway point of the second half but playing sluggishly on offense, the Badgers went on a 9-2 run over a span of 2:18.
Wilson hit a long jumper on a feed from Mike Bruesewitz; a block by Berggren led to a mid-range jumper by Bruesewitz, off a feed from Gasser; Gasser buried a three-pointer; and Evans hit a jumper from the wing for a 51-34 lead with 7:44 left.