MADISON, Wis. — Be careful against No. 4 Wisconsin. A couple of missed shots can quietly snowball into a huge hole for opponents.
No. 23 Illinois is the latest team to get run over by the surprising big red juggernaut. Ben Brust scored 18 points, Sam Dekker added 17 and the Badgers used a 20-0 run in the first half in an easy 95-70 win Wednesday night.
The Badgers improved to 16-0 (3-0 Big Ten), the best start in school history — not that coach Bo Ryan is paying attention.
“I’d have gone home, maybe had a beverage, eaten something and gone to bed and it would never be brought up until you just brought it up,” Ryan told a reporter after the game.
“For the players, what they’ve accomplished ... I’m certainly proud of them,” he added. “But you know, you start thinking about that too much, it can go the other way in a hurry.”
Just as it did for Illinois (13-3, 2-1) in the first half.
Wisconsin shot 53 percent from the field in the half to open a 25-point halftime lead, and finished 56 percent from the field for the night. The Illini (13-3, 2-1) stumbled badly in their debut this year as a Top 25 team and lost a sixth straight to their border rival.
Rayvonte Rice led Illinois with 19 points on 7-of-21 shooting.
The Illini missed 13 straight shots, some on easy looks, while Wisconsin methodically wore them down inside and on the perimeter during the big first-half run.
“Two-point field-goal efficiency and production. They got it done; I’ll give it to them,” Illlinois coach John Groce said.
Illinois outrebounded Wisconsin 48-35, including 25-5 on the offensive end, but still lost badly.
“It’s kind of a positive thing knowing that we gave up 25 offensive boards but we still won the way we did,” freshman forward Nigel Hayes said. “It just goes to show that if we clean that up ... we can probably win by even more and play a better game.”