Badgers to host red hot Illini, McCamey

first_imgView Gallery (2 Photos)Through 11 conference games, the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers have faced each member of the preseason all-Big Ten team and have beaten each of their teams at least once.But not one of those five players has entered the matchup with UW on as hot a streak as Illinois junior guard Demetri McCamey is. Over the last 11 games for the Illini, McCamey has averaged 17.4 points per game, a full two points higher than his season average.During that streak, McCamey has scored more than 20 points four times, including a season-high 28 points in a Jan. 19 loss to Purdue.“He’s playing great,” UW assistant coach Gary Close said. “He’s playing under control, he’s shooting over 40 percent from three, he’s finding people, he’s the leader in the league in assists, he scores taking it to the hoop… he’s playing really well.”As Close mentioned, McCamey is even more impressive because he’s more than just a scorer. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior leads the Big Ten with 6.38 assists per game, which is 0.71 more than Evan Turner, who ranks second in the league with 5.67 per game.Over that same 11-game stretch, McCamey is averaging 7.27 assists per game, or nearly one full assist per game higher than his season average.In his team’s 78-73 victory Saturday over then-No. 5 Michigan State, McCamey posted a season-high 11 assists to just two turnovers.“I think he counts for almost half their offense in terms of scoring and getting people open and finding people,” Close said. “There’s not a guard in the league that’s playing better right now.”Considering the Badgers’ defensive performance against guards like Kalin Lucas, Evan Turner and Manny Harris, however, it would be surprising if McCamey’s hot streak continued Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.Most recently, UW shut down Harris for the second time this season, allowing the Big Ten’s leading scorer to put up just 11 points in the Badgers’ 62-44 victory Saturday at the Crisler Arena. Before Harris, it was Lucas who put up just seven points before suffering a right ankle injury in the second half of Wisconsin’s 18-point victory a week ago.After watching McCamey’s performance against MSU on television Saturday, senior Jason Bohannon knows the final result of tonight’s game will hinge on the team’s defensive effort against Illinois’ leading scorer.“McCamey’s playing really well right now; he’s being able to do whatever he wants a lot of times,” Bohannon said. “For us it’s going to be key to be able to contain him and make him play within their offense a little more.”McCamey is more than just an offensive force, however.While opposing offenses have posted decent numbers against the Illini recently, outside shots have not come easy against Illinois this season. The Illini rank second in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal defense and second in overall field goal percentage defense.Much of the Illini’s strength in those areas is thanks to McCamey’s length as a 6-foot-3 guard.“(He has) strong, quick hands,” Close said. “Their guards are long and athletic, and it’s one reason why teams are not shooting very well from the outside against them.”With that in mind, another key to tonight’s matchup will be the Badgers’ outside shooting — which has been exceptionally strong of late — against the tough Illini perimeter defense.If UW manages to keep hitting its shots, especially from beyond the arc, it will be tough for Illinois to stop the Badgers. But if Wisconsin falls into a shooting slump as it has in the past against teams like Michigan and Northwestern, Illinois will make things interesting at the Kohl Center.With the impressive ability of head coach Bo Ryan’s squad to score near the end of the 35-second shot clock, the tough defense of the Illini will be tested as they are forced to defend for long periods of time nearly every trip down the court.“Defensively, every team is pretty good the first 15-20 seconds,” Ryan said. “If you take good shots and make the defense have to work a bit it can play into your hands.”last_img read more