MADISON, Wisconsin (Ticker) -- Wisconsin waited 56 years for an outright Big Ten Conference championship and got it in thrilling fashion.
Devin Harris' free throw with four-tenths of a second remaining lifted the 24th-ranked Badgers to their first Big Ten crown since 1947 with a 60-59 victory over No. 14 Illinois.
Brian Cook's turnaround jumper capped a 9-1 run for Illinois (20-6, 10-5 Big Ten) that forged a 59-59 tie with nine seconds left. Wisconsin called a timeout three seconds later.
The Badgers (22-6, 12-4) inbounded to Harris, who drove to the basket. His layup attempt was blocked by Illinois freshman Dee Brown, who was whistled for a foul as the buzzer sounded.
"I was just glad they called the foul," Harris said. "I wasn't expecting a foul."
The officials put four-tenths of a second back on the clock and Harris created more drama by missing his first attempt. He swished the second one to give the Badgers the lead.
"I just wanted to make sure I got my rhythm going, cocked my wrist," Harris said. "There was no doubt in my mind the second one was going in."
"He does it every day in practice," Wisconsin freshman Alando Tucker said. "I had so much confidence that he'd knock it down."
Illinois had one last chance and threw it the length of the court to Cook, who did not release his shot in time.
"To be a champion, it's such a thin line," Illinois coach Bill Self said. "It's such a great lesson for us to learn. They got it done and we didn't."
Wisconsin was one of four teams to share the conference crown last season, with Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State. The Badgers own back-to-back championships for the first time since 1923-24.
"To win it outright is such a great accomplishment for us," Harris said. "From the first day of practice, we always said we wanted the conference championship first."
The Badgers felt that they were on the short end of some calls earlier but were happy to receive the whistle at the end of the game.
"Devin made the play at the end," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "This was more of a foul (than past situations) and I think you have to call it."
Wisconsin took its largest lead at 53-43 on Freddie Owens' two free throws with 5:50 left. Brown scored the Fighting Illini's next seven points, but the lead was still 58-50 after Mike Wilkinson's 3-pointer with 2:36 to go.
Illinois got a basket from Roger Powell and a 3-pointer from Cook around a free throw from Wilkinson, cutting the deficit to 59-55 with 1:54 remaining. Brown added a steal and a layup with 57 seconds to go to make it a two-point game.
"They kept their poise," Ryan said. "Bill has done a great job job with a lot of young kids."
Brown came up with another steal, but his layup attempt was blocked by Tucker out of bounds with 17 seconds to go. Self called a timeout and set up a play for Cook, who scored over Tucker to tie it.
"We had some opportunities and didn't get it done," Self said. "There were a lot of young guys - Dee in particular - making a lot of plays."
Kirk Penney led Wisconsin with 14 points and Harris had 13 and Tucker 12 to lead a balanced attack. Penney, who plays on New Zealand's national team and was a freshman on the 2000 Final Four team, played his last home game.
Tucker and Mike Wilkinson keyed the defensive effort on Cook, who led Illinois with 25 points. He made 8-of-18 from the floor led the Illini with six rebounds.
"I just wanted to stick in and battle, just make Cook take tough shots," Tucker said. "He's a great player."
Brown finished with 20 points, but no other player for Illinois had more than four. Illinois rebounded from 38.5 percent (10-of-26) shooting to click at 52 percent (13-of-25) in the second half.
Self found solace in the defeat for a team that starts three freshmen and a sophomore around the senior, Cook.
"I think that what we found out of late is that our guys competitively are tough," he said. "We're not physically tough, but we're competitive. There are a lot of positives."