Mon, 12 Apr 2021

With Ayo Dosunmu out, No. 5 Illinois visits No. 23 Wisconsin

Field Level Media
27 Feb 2021, 05:55 GMT+10

Wisconsin had no answer for Illinois star Ayo Dosunmu when the teams met earlier this month.

However, it seems the No. 23 Badgers (16-8 overall, 10-7 Big Ten) won't have to worry about one of the nation's top players when they try to avoid a third consecutive Big Ten home defeat on Saturday against the fifth-ranked Fighting Illini in Madison, Wis.

On Feb. 6 in Champaign, Dosunmu became the third player in Illinois history to record a triple-double with 21 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds during the Illini's 75-60 rout of Wisconsin. However, Dosunmu (21.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists) suffered what the team calls a facial injury (reported to be a broken nose) on a hard foul in Tuesday's 81-72 loss at Michigan State.

He sat out Thursday's 86-70 win over Nebraska in the team's final home contest. No official timetable has been set for Dosunmu's return.

"I'll leave that all up to the doctors," said Illinois coach Brad Underwood, who indicated there are additional factors regarding Dosunmu's return to the floor.

"We'll do everything we can to expedite that process, but we will never jeopardize his health and well-being. There's some other issues that have to be dealt with that we'll keep private.

"We're a man down, but we're gonna fight like hell. I'm proud of (the team) because they've been nothing but incredible."

The Illini (17-6, 13-4) already proved they can win without Dosunmu, who posted another triple-double with 19 points, 10 boards and 10 assists at Minnesota on Feb. 20. They have won eight of nine games.

Illinois' other star, 7-footer Kofi Cockburn (17.7 ppg, 10.0 rpg) had 23 points with 14 rebounds against Wisconsin, starting the current six-game stretch in which he has averaged 20 points on 70.8-percent shooting.

The Badgers are 11-4 at home, but have lost three of their last four at Madison and will try to avoid losing three straight Big Ten games at home for the first time since the 2017-18 season. Following their 68-51 win at Northwestern on Sunday, Wisconsin is looking to win consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 15 and 20, when they beat Rutgers and Northwestern.

Micah Potter (12.4 ppg) had 19 points with eight rebounds and D'Mitrik Trice (13.5 ppg) scored 13 Sunday as the Badgers continued their shooting struggles (41.1 percent), but held the Wildcats to 40.0 percent from the field. Wisconsin has shot 36.4 percent over its last five games, winning only two.

"Well, I think you look at the whole thing, and obviously, defensively, you've got to be connected and all five pieces or parts working together," Badgers coach Greg Gard said.

--Field Level Media

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