Illinois fends off rival Northwestern, 68-61
More Big Ten men’s hoops
(AP) Malcolm Hill scored 14 points and Illinois beat Northwestern 68-61 on Tuesday night.
Te’Jon Lucas, Maverick Morgan and Michael Finke each had 11 points, while Hill added nine rebounds for Illinois (14-11, 4-8 Big Ten).
Bryant McIntosh led Northwestern (18-6, 7-4) with 21 points, but he committed an uncharacteristic six turnovers compared and made four assists. Vic Law had 16 points and nine rebounds.
Tied at 28 at halftime, no team enjoyed more than a six-point lead in the back-and-forth second half until the game’s final moments. Lucas scored a layup with 1:37 remaining to put Illinois ahead 63-61, and Michael Finke added to the lead with a jumper at 1:09.
Following Law’s 3-pointer at 3:31, Northwestern missed its next three field goals and committed four turnovers. The Wildcats’ 33.9 field goal percentage Tuesday was a season-worst.
The victory was Illinois’ first on the road this season.
Northwestern, which is chasing it’s first-ever NCAA Tournament berth, has now followed a six-game winning streak with consecutive losses. The Wildcats fell to then-No. 23 Purdue 80-59 on Saturday.
LINDSEY REMAINS OUT
Scottie Lindsey missed his second consecutive contest with mononucleosis, and the team is unsure when he will return. Lindsey leads Northwestern with 16.1 points per game, and the Wildcats have scored 52 and 61 points in his absence, two of their three lowest point totals this season.
Illinois: Despite yet another poor shooting performance from Hill – his third straight game under 40 percent – the senior continues to be a bright spot in trying times for the Fighting Illini. His efforts on Tuesday moved him into sole possession of 8th place on Illinois’ all-time scoring list with 1,665, passing Mark Smith and Brandon Paul.
Northwestern: The Wildcats inch ever closer to their first NCAA Tournament berth, but their first back-to-back losses since Dec. 30 and Jan. 5 have derailed momentum. The upcoming schedule provides little relief, too, as Northwestern’s next two are against the Big Ten’s best – No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 21 Maryland.
Illinois: Hosts Penn State on Saturday.
Northwestern: Travels to Wisconsin on Sunday.