Jan. 12, 2014
-- Drew Crawford
scored 13 points and Tre Demps
added 11, including three huge 3-pointers down the stretch as Northwestern took down No. 23 Illinois 49-43 Sunday evening at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The Wildcats held the Illini to 28.1 percent shooting in the contest as Chris Collins picked up his first Big Ten win as a head coach.
NU led for almost the entirety of the contest as Illinois' only lead came at 6-4. The 'Cats answered with seven straight points, including 3-pointers by Crawford and JerShon Cobb.
Both teams struggled to put the ball in the basket over the opening 20 minutes of play but Northwestern took its largest lead of the stanza, 21-13, following a basket in the lane by Cobb with just over two minutes remaining.
The Wildcats took a 22-15 lead at the break as they limited Illinois to 19.4 percent shooting (6-31), including an 0-for-8 effort from 3-point range. Demps collected seven of his career-high eight rebounds in the opening half.
Northwestern pushed its lead to 10, 25-15, four minutes into the second period before Illinois finally was able to knock down some shots. After missing their first 12 shots from behind the arch, Tracy Abrams and Jon Ekey each hit one during a 12-2 run that tied the game at 27 with 11:30 left.
However, the Wildcats had the answer as Sanjay Lumpkin hit two free throws and Crawford nailed a 3 out of the corner that pushed the lead back up to five.
The game was tied 34-34 with seven minutes left when Demps caught fire at the right time. The redshirt sophomore hit a triple before Nnanna Egwu scored on a dunk on the other end. However, Demps hit a triple from the top of the key before nailing one from the right wing to give Northwestern a 43-36 advantage with 3:32 remaining.
A tough basket by Cobb at the rim pushed the lead to nine with just under two minutes to go. Illinois closed within two late, but Crawford hit two free throws with 14.3 seconds to go and then two more with 4.3 seconds left to seal the win, Northwestern's fifth over Illinois in their last eight meetings.
Lumpkin and Alex Olah keyed the defensive charge. Lumpkin was largely tasked with defending Big Ten leading scorer Rayvonte Rice (18.8 ppg), but the redshirt freshman locked him down, holding him to 2-for-11 shooting and just eight points.
Cobb chipped in 11 points for the 'Cats and Demps added a career-high five assists to go along with career-best eight rebounds.
The Wildcats return to action at 6 p.m. Wednesday as they host Michigan State at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tickets are available by calling 888-GO-PURPLE or by visiting NUsports.com.
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