Madison, Wis. — Frank Kaminsky started hot for Wisconsin, then Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes finished off Illinois.
Kaminsky had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and the fifth-ranked Badgers won, 68-49, on Sunday to clinch the best start in school history.
Kaminsky hit eight of his first nine shots on his way to 17 first-half points, but was then held scoreless for more than 16 minutes. But Koenig and Hayes combined to score 23 points in the second half as Wisconsin (23-2, 11-1 Big Ten) put the game away.
"Our guys really don't go out there and say, 'OK, let's make sure Frank gets his X number of points and then we'll go get ours,'" coach Bo Ryan said. "We took what they gave us. That's all we ever do."
Koenig finished with 15 points, and Hayes added 14.
Illinois (17-9, 7-6) started the game hot, and four 3-pointers in just more than three minutes infuriated Ryan. Wisconsin responded by clamping down on defense.
The Illini then missed seven of their last eight shots in the half, and the Badgers sandwiched a 20-4 run around halftime. Illinois got no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
"It just goes to show you that we can beat you in a lot of different ways," Kaminsky said.
Malcolm Hill scored 14 points and Rayvonte Rice added 10 to lead Illinois, which had won four straight.
The Illini had held all four opponents to under 60 points and 40 percent shooting. But of those teams, only Michigan State ranks in the top half of the Big Ten in scoring average.
Illinois coach John Groce said he was most disappointed that his team was outrebounded 32-25 and allowed Wisconsin to turn 15 offensive rebounds into 12 points.
"Now you've got to sit down and guard them again," Croce said. "They're already the No. 1 offensive efficiency team in the last 17 years of analytics, so it would be preferable to guard them one time, instead of multiple times in a trip down the floor."
More Big Ten
(At) Northwestern 66, Iowa 61 (OT): Bryant McIntosh scored 18 and Northwestern ended a 10-game losing streak after Jarrod Uthoff nailed a 3-pointer at the end of regulation for Iowa.
Tre Demps scored 16 and Alex Olah had 11 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks for the Wildcats (11-14, 2-10).
Uthoff scored a career-high 25 points for Iowa (15-10, 6-6 Big Ten).
(At) Indiana 90, Minnesota 71: James Blackmon, Jr. had 24 points and seven rebounds to lead the Hoosiers, Blackmon was 9-of-14 from the floor, including six 3-pointers.Troy Williams and Robert Johnson added 19 points apiece for Indiana (18-8, 8-5 Big Ten), who made a school-record 18 3-pointers out of 32 attempts (56 percent).
Andre Hollins finished with 23 points for the Gophers (16-10, 5-8).
(At) Purdue 66, Nebraska 54: Vince Edwards scored 15 and Kendall Stephens added 12 for the Boilermakers (17-9, 9-4), who pulled back into a second-place tie with 19th-ranked Maryland, each three games in the loss column behind league-leading Wisconsin.
Purdue used a 10-2 run that began with 14:54 remaining to take a 48-32 lead with 12:19 to go. That burst included a three-point play from Edwards and a 3-pointer from Stephens.
Purdue also improved to 6-1 in Big Ten home games, losing only to Maryland on Jan. 10. The Boilermakers have conference home games remaining with Rutgers and Illinois and must travel to Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan State.
Shavon Shields led the Cornhuskers (13-12, 5-8) with 19 points, and Terran Petteway added 13.
No. 7 Arizona 86, (at) Washington State 59: Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Kaleb Tarczewski each scored 17 for Arizona (22-3, 10-2 Pacific 12)which outscored Washington State in the paint, 46-12.
Dexter Kernick-Drew scored 20 points and DaVonte Lacy 18 for Washington State (11-14, 5-8).
(At) No. 11 Utah 76, California 61: Jakob Poeltl had 18 points and eight rebounds, and No. 11 Utah beat California 76-61 on Sunday for the Utes' 17th straight home victory.
Trailing 32-26 with five minutes left before halftime, Utah closed the half on a 14-2 run and didn't trail after the break.
Delon Wright added 16 points for the Utes (20-4, 10-2 Pac-12), while Brandon Taylor had 13.
Tyrone Wallace led Cal (16-10, 6-7) with 26 points and Jabari Bird scored 21.
No. 13 Northern Iowa 68, (at) Missouri State 57: Seth Tuttle scored 22 and Northern Iowa matched its season-high with 12 3-pointers.
The Panthers (24-2, 13-1 Missouri Valley Conference) shot 57 percent from the field in the first half, including 9-of-14 from 3-point range. Northern Iowa had 14 assists and led 42-20 at the half. The lead stretched to 49-23 with 17:40 to go before Missouri State made a late push.
Jeremy Morgan and Deon Mitchell added 11 points each in the win for the Panthers.
Camyn Boone scored 14 for Missouri State (9-17, 3-11 MVC).
The victory stretched Northern Iowa's win streak to 13-games —the fifth-longest current streak in the nation—and pulled the Panthers even for first-place in the Missouri Valley with Wichita State.