Northwestern knocks off No. 22 Illinois

Reggie Hearn scored 20 points and Northwestern built an early lead using 3-point shooting to hand No. 22 Illinois its third straight loss, 68-54 on Thursday night. Illinois has lost five of seven after starting 12-0. The Wildcats (11-7, 2-3 Big Ten) were 8 of 15 from 3-point range but hit five of those shots in the first half to build a 36-21 lead.

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FINAL: Reggie Hearn went 4-of-7 from the field and led five Northwestern players in double digits with 20 points as the Wildcats defeated No. 22 Illinois 68-54 in an upset on Thursday at Assembly Hall in Champaign. Northwestern never trailed in the game.

Northwestern also got double-digit contributions from Dave Sobolewski and Tre Demps, who each scored 10 and Jared Swopshire and Alex Marcotullio, who each scored 12. Hearn made 3-of-5 three-pointers.

Northwestern (11-7) hit 50 percent of its field goals (17-of-34). The Wildcats were hot from long range, hitting 8-of-16 threes for a 50 percent night from beyond the arc. Northwestern shot 26-of-31 from the free throw line. Brandon Paul scored 21 points, grabbed five rebounds, and knocked down 9-of-17 shot attempts for Illinois (14-5) in a losing effort. The Fighting Illini shot just 39 percent from the field (19-of-49).

Illinois was tough on the offensive boards, grabbing 18. More Illinois scoring came from Tracy Abrams (10 points). The Fighting Illini pounded the boards hard in defeat as they grabbed 33 to 26 for the Wildcats. The Wildcats’ largest lead was 17, which came late in the first. Leading 15-11 in the first, Northwestern used a 19-6 spurt to open its cushion to 17 points with 3:09 left in the first half. Kale Abrahamson finished the run off with a field goal, which helped Northwestern lead 36-21 at halftime.

HALFTIME: Dave Sobolewski has seven points to lead Northwestern to a 36-21 lead over No. 22 Illinois at the end of the first half. The Wildcats never trailed in the first half and led by as many as 17 points. The Fighting Illini went into a funk with the score 18-12, going 2:06 without a point while Northwestern went on a 7-0 run to open up a 13-point lead. Illinois had nine offensive rebounds in the first half, leading to second-chance opportunities. The Wildcats hit five threes in the first half, shooting 63 percent from deep. Northwestern demonstrated its offensive efficiency by racking up eight assists on 13 baskets. Seven Northwestern players scored in the half. The Fighting Illini’s Tyler Griffey already has five points and four rebounds.

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EDITOR’S NOTE In partnership with Narrative Science, BTN.com posts fast recaps after every half of every Big Ten men’s basketball game. Use the links above for more info on this specific game.

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