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Mayer’s Career Day Guides Illini to 61-51 Win over Wisconsin

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MADISON, Wis. — Illinois used a career-high scoring effort from Matthew Mayer and a strong second-half showing to take down Wisconsin, 61-51, away from home on Saturday afternoon.

The Illini held the Badgers to their lowest point total at Kohl Center this season, and Illinois has now won six straight games, including three on the road, against Wisconsin.

Illinois now moves to 6-4 in Big Ten action, the first time the team has been two games over .500 in conference play this season.

Mayer took over in the second half, scoring 18 of his career-best 26 points in the final frame. Mayer also tied his career-high mark with five 3-pointers, while he also grabbed six rebounds and recorded one block and one steal.

Jayden Epps registered 13 points after making his second consecutive start, and he has now knocked down a three in 12 of his last 13 games. Epps shot 50% and added two rebounds and two assists.

With points not coming easily for either team in the first half, Dain Dainja registered eight points in the frame and finished with nine points, eight rebounds, two blocks, and one steals in a strong defensive effort.

Coleman Hawkins recorded a team-best +17 in the victory, and he scored five points, grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, dished out two assists, and made two blocks.

Both teams struggled to find their footing offensively in the first half, though the Illini opened the game with a 7-3 run through seven minutes of play. Dainja scored Illinois’ next eight points to keep the Illini within striking distance, and his final bucket of which helped the visitors go on a 7-0 run to close the frame.

The Illini led by four, 20-16, at halftime in a very low-scoring opening period of play, as Dainja and Matthew Mayer combined for 16 of the team’s 20 points at the break. Dainja also accounted for two of the team’s four first-half blocks, and the Illini held the Badgers to just 18.2% shooting from the field after 20 minutes of action.

Illinois started to get into a rhythm early in the second half. The Illini opened the half wiith a 12-4 run to open up a double-digit lead less than four minutes into the frame, with Mayer scoring eight points during that stretch.

After the Badgers took a one-point lead and seemed to swing the momentum in their favor, the Illini took control. A 22-4 run turned a one-point deficit into a game-high 17-point lead in the span of eight minutes, with five different Illini registering points during that streak.

Illinois closed out the game to seal its third Big Ten road victory of the season, with each of the three victories coming by double digits.

Illinois (15-6, 6-4) squares off against Nebraska in its next game, taking on the Cornhuskers at State Farm Center on Tuesday night at 6 pm CT.




  • Illinois captured its sixth win over its last seven contests with a 61-51 road win at Wisconsin on Saturday.

  • The win marks the Illini’s third straight road win overall, and its sixth consecutive win in the series vs. Wisconsin, and the team’s third straight win at Kohl Center.

    • Longest such streak against the Badgers since the ’80s when the Illini won 16 straight from Feb. 12, 1981 through Jan. 12, 1989

  • Illinois now leads all Big Ten teams with 23 road wins in league play over the last four years.

  • Illinois led 20-14 at halftime, setting season scoring lows in a half for both teams.

    • Illinois’ 20 points were its fewest in a first half scoring 18 points before halftime in a 54-51 victory vs. Rutgers on Jan. 11, 2020.

    • UW’s 14 points are the fewest allowed by the Illini in a first half since giving up just 12 points in the first half of a 72-53 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Nov. 16, 2008.

  • The Illini out-rebounded the Badgers 37-31, with all eight players that saw action in the contest grabbing at least one rebound.


  • Matthew Mayer poured in a career-high 26 points, including a career-high tying five 3-pointers.

    • Mayer’s previous scoring high was 22 vs. Norfolk State (3/17/22) while playing for Baylor.

    • His previous high as an Illini was 21 points, which he did twice this season in wins over Texas (12/6/22) and vs. Alabama A&M (12/17/22)

    • It marks the sixth time this season that Mayer has led the Illini in scoring, and the 11th time in his last 12 games that he has scored in double-figures.

  • Freshman Jayden Epps scored 13 points, making his second-straight start.

  • Dain Dainja scored nine points and grabbed eight boards.

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