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Happ-y Days: Badgers snap 5-game losing streak with win over Illini

Illinois is once again the cure for what ails Wisconsin in Big Ten play, as Badgers snap 5-game losing streak with win over Illini.

Ethan Happ or Trent Frazier, who you got? On Thursday night the game between the Illinois Fighting Illini and Wisconsin Badgers felt like it would come down to which big night mattered most.

In the end, it was Happ and the Badgers coming away victorious, 78-69. The junior All-American led his team with 27 points and had 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals.

Wisconsin needed every bit of those 27 points too, as Illinois star guard Trent Frazier scored a career-high 32 points in a losing effort.

The difference came from the help afforded the two stars, as Leron Black’s 13 points were the only notable scoring effort from the Illini. Wisconsin got a huge night from both Brad Davison (14 points) and Brevin Prtizl (15).

It was a huge night for the much-maligned junior guard, as Pritzl was replaced in the starting lineup two games ago and came off the bench to respond in a big way. He scored his 15 points in nearly perfect fashion, hitting 3 of 3 from deep and 3 of 4 from the field overall. Pritzl also hit all six of his free throws and grabbed six rebounds.

The win is Wisconsin’s 13th straight in the all-time series between these two teams and snaps a five-game losing streak.

While the score was close for most of the night, the Badgers did something it hasn’t most of this season — rise to the occasion when challenged. UW managed to hold a lead for 28:09 of the game compared to just 3:44 for Illinois. For once, it wasn’t the Badgers crumbling under the pressure of a close affair.

Happ led the way for a team that also shot 53.2 percent from the field, going 12 of 20 from the field. UW was equally good beyond the arc, hitting 8 of 15 shots from deep and also were a much more respectable 74.1 percent from the free throw line in the win.

Frazier was huge for the Illini, but the Badgers did a great job of shutting down anyone else from getting comfortable.

Wisconsin moved to 4-9 in Big Ten play and helped keep a one-game margin towards earning a bye in the Big Ten tournament just a few weeks away.

With Michigan and Purdue coming up in the next two games at the Kohl Center, this win was badly needed for UW’s confidence.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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