For nearly 28 minutes Sunday, Illinois kept hitting tough shots and Wisconsin kept missing them from all over the floor.
It added up to 13-point Wisconsin deficit with about 12 minutes to go, the type of adversity that might have tripped up the Badgers a few months ago.
But things have changed. Ethan Happ had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and he helped spark a 17-0 run that enabled Wisconsin to roar back and win 69-60.
"It wasn't exactly pretty," Badgers interim coach Greg Gard said, "but that resolve, that fight, that grit ... shows that they're maturing."
Happ, an athletic 6-foot-9 freshman, had three steals during the decisive run for the Badgers (17-10, 9-5 Big Ten), who avoided another potentially damaging loss to their NCAA tournament résumé. The Badgers lost to lowly Western Illinois and Milwaukee at home in nonconference play, but they have victories over ranked conference opponents Michigan State, Maryland and Indiana.
Now they can also take heart with the team's best comeback win since overcoming a 15-point deficit in the second half at home to unbeaten and No. 1 Ohio State on Feb. 12, 2011.
Nigel Hayes scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half after being held without a basket in the first half. The Badgers go-to forward bounced back after shooting 1-for-13 for five points in a 69-57 loss last week to No. 8 Michigan State.
Malcolm Hill scored 20 points and Kendrick Nunn added 15 for Illinois (12-15, 4-10). The high-scoring duo hit all the tough shots until the Illini became unglued in the second half.
Illinois went more than seven minutes of the half without a basket, and coach John Groce appeared unhappy at times with the officials over a foul disparity favoring Wisconsin. The Illini were whistled for 19 fouls in the second half to seven for Wisconsin.
No. 6 Maryland 86, Michigan 82: Robert Carter scored 17 points and the host Terrapins (23-5, 11-4) bounced back from back-to-back losses to beat the Wolverines (19-9, 9-6).
"You lose two in a row, it felt like two months," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said.
Jake Layman had 16 points, while Melo Trimble scored 13, including two late free throws to seal the victory for Maryland. Diamond Stone added 13 points after being suspended for Thursday's loss to the Gophers following a flagrant foul vs. Wisconsin.
Mark Donnal had 25 points for the Wolverines, who were 13-for-27 from three-point range.