Home > Illinois basketball > Big brother Illini beat up Northwestern

Big brother Illini beat up Northwestern

Sometimes little brother lands a haymaker on big brother. But more often, big brother sends little brother crying to his room after an embarrassing beatdown.

With the sour taste of a 73-68 loss to Northwestern last year still in its mouth, Illinois creamed its in-state rival 88-63, shooting a program single-game record 70.5 percent from the field. Illinois has won 20 of the last 22 games against Northwestern, including nine straight at the Assembly Hall.

“We really stepped on their throats,” said Illinois senior center Mike Tisdale, who had 13 points. “We’ve been saying that all year. We have to finish games. We came out the second half and didn’t give them any confidence and finally finished a game right.”

The No. 20 Illini (13-3, 3-0 Big Ten) claimed a 29-10 lead 8 minutes and 19 seconds into the game and cruised to a 3-0 start to Big Ten play. Northwestern’s mix of zone defensive schemes fell flat against a dynamic Illinois offensive attack. The Illini shot 81.8 percent from the field to take a 47-24 halftime lead.

“We are a good shooting team if we have open shots,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said.

“Everybody can shoot really well,” said Demetri McCamey, who led the Illini with 14 points and seven assists. “I think we have a lot of good shooters. It’s just about making the right plays and making the right shots at the right time.”

Six Illini scored in double figures – McCamey (14), Tisdale (13), Mike Davis (12), Jereme Richmond (11), Meyers Leonard (11) and DJ Richardson (10) – but Davis was the star of the show.

The senior forward attempted just five field goals, but received an ovation from an Illini fanbase with fickle feelings for the inconsistent power forward. Davis finished with 12 points and seven rebounds but his best work came as a passer, setting a career-high with 7 assists. He reached his previous career-high assist total (five) before the nine-minute mark of the first half.

“I just found my teammates,” Davis said. “We had the high-low working in the first half, me and Tisdale. … I just have to credit my teammates for making shots.”

With leading scorer John Shurna resigned to roaming around the perimeter due to a high-ankle sprain, the Wildcats (9-4, 0-3) certainly didn’t look like a team some thought would receive the program’s first ever invitation to the NCAA Tournament – or even its third-straight NIT bid.

Northwestern shot 35.5 percent from the field and went 8-for-34 from beyond the arc. JerShon Cobb led the Wildcats with 18 points, and Michael Thompson added 15 points on 17 shot attempts. Shurna sat most of the second half and finished in single-digits (seven points) for the first time this season.

“Not much competition out there tonight,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. “They played extremely well, and we had something to do with that I think. We were just unable to stop them.”

While Northwestern seems to have lost all momentum from a program-record 8-0 start, the Illini are back on track following back-to-back December losses to UIC and Missouri with a three-game win streak heading into Tuesday’s 8 p.m. tipoff at Penn State.

“It was a fun win,” Davis said. “We got back to playing Illinois basketball and having some fun tonight.”

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Categories: Illinois basketball
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