MADISON, Wis. — Jason Bohannon was 6-of-7 from 3-point range, helping Wisconsin snap a six-game losing streak with a 63-50 victory over No. 23 Illinois on Thursday night.
Bohannon’s 20 points and six 3s tied his career highs for the Badgers (13-9, 4-6 Big Ten). Bohannon was a perfect from beyond the arc until his only miss with 5:55 remaining in the game.
Mike Davis scored 14 points to lead Illinois (18-5, 6-4), which has lost two of its last three and is stuck in a shooting slump.
The Badgers’ losing streak came to an end against the conference’s stingiest scoring defense — and came without Wisconsin starting forward Keaton Nankivil, who sat out with an ankle injury.
Jon Leuer made his first start in Nankivil’s place and continued his strong offensive season, adding 15 points.
Bohannon was 5-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half as Wisconsin took a 37-25 lead. He extended the lead to 44-27 with his sixth 3-pointer with 16:56 left in the game.
But Illinois cut the deficit to 10 with a 7-0 run that included a jumper and 3-pointer by Demetri McCamey, a basket by Dominique Keller and, in a move that could earn him some ribbing from teammates, a missed dunk by the 6-foot-2 Bohannon after an Illinois turnover.
But the Badgers answered with a long outlet pass from Trevon Hughes to set up an easy layup for Marcus Landry and a 3-pointer by backup guard Jordan Taylor — while Illinois’ Alex Legion shot an airball and was called for traveling on consecutive possessions.
It was the continuation of a recent outside shooting lull for the Illini, who are putting together a surprising season but struggled in their last two games going into Thursday night. Illinois was blown out at Minnesota last week and didn’t look particularly sharp in a home victory over Iowa on Sunday.
The Badgers, who won the Big Ten title and tournament last season but came into Thursday’s game having lost six straight — most recently a loss at Northwestern on Saturday.
It was the Badgers’ worst losing streak since the 1997-98 season, when they lost eight in a row.
But it’s not like Wisconsin has been blown out in the majority of its losses. The Badgers held the lead in the final 3 minutes of regulation in five of their last seven losses going into Thursday, but were unable to close out a win.
Illinois came into Thursday’s game giving up an average of 56.6 points per game, best in the Big Ten and fourth-best in Division I.