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No. 10 Illinois self-destructs in overtime at Northwestern

The Illini had no answer for the Wildcats’ stars.

TCR // David Pollak

EVANSTON, Ill. — Just a terrible overtime period.

In an epic dog fight, No. 10 Illinois had no answers for Boo Buie and Northwestern in a 96-91 overtime loss to the Wildcats in Evanston on Wednesday night.

The Illini had a chance to win it in regulation, but tied at 76, Illinois kept the ball in Marcus Domask’s hands and he missed a tough shot in the lane.

In overtime, Buie took over, hitting a pair of three-pointers with an Illini defender in his face. Illinois couldn’t get any offense going itself, with its first bucket coming on a goaltending call on a Coleman Hawkins layup attempt.

After their first meeting ended in a 30-point blowout on Jan. 2, this game was anything but. Eighteen lead changes and 15 ties proved that this game needed extra time before it was all said and done.

With the Welsh-Ryan Arena rocking the whole night, neither team led by more than 7 points until overtime. This one had all the feels of an old school battle between historic rivals.

This game started off very slow, as Illinois (14-5, 5-3) led Northwestern (14-5, 5-3) just 17-14 at the 10 minute mark. Offensively, the Illini were pretty abysmal in the first half.

Illinois shot just 12-of-34 from the field, 4-of-11 from three, and 4-of-7 from the free throw line in the first 20 minutes. Marcus Domask led the team in scoring at the break with just 7 points on 3-of-7 shooting.

Luckily for the Illini, the Wildcats weren’t much better. Northwestern shot well from the field overall, but were just 1-of-4 from three and 1-of-3 from the line before the break.

Illinois trailed 34-32 at halftime.

Things opened up for both teams in the second half and it was still very back and forth. With less than five minutes gone in the second half, there had already been 10 lead changes and nine ties.

This trend continued throughout the rest of the game as this one came down to the wire.

Northwestern’s Boo Buie led all players in scoring, finishing with 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting.

Terrence Shannon Jr. is still trying to find his footing after his return, as he struggled shooting just 3-of-8 from the field.

Shots at the rim proved to be the Illini’s kryptonite against Northwestern, as they shot just 15-of-35 on layup attempts.

Tonight’s loss marked just the second loss for Illinois in the last 13 meetings between these two Big Ten foes. It’s also the Wildcats’ first top-10 win over Illinois since 1956.

To say Illinois has a lot to work on would be an understatement.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

Domask with the bucket and the foul.

Domask with a HUGE slam.

SOUND SMART

  • Illinois dominated the boards despite a slow start, with the orange and blue up 24-13 in total rebounds and 11-1 in offensive boards before the break. The Illini finished the game up 46-32 in the board battle.
  • Northwestern had the clear advantage early on with points in the paint, outscoring the Illini 26-14 in the first 20 minutes.
  • This was as back and forth as a rivalry game could be, as this contest finished with 15 ties and 18 lead changes.

TWEET OF THE GAME

That dunk took all of us by surprise.

UP NEXT

Now two games out of first place in the Big Ten, Illinois will host Indiana this Saturday at the State Farm Center.

Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Fox.