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    Wildcats Lead Throughout in 68-54 Win at No. 23/22 Illinois

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Northwestern guard Reggie Hearn (11) takes a pass as he moves to shoot past Illinois forward Sam McLaurin (0) during the first half. (AP Photo/Darrell Hoemann)

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Northwestern guard Reggie Hearn (11) takes a pass as he moves to shoot past Illinois forward Sam McLaurin (0) during the first half. (AP Photo/Darrell Hoemann)
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Jan. 17, 2013

    Box Score |  AP Photos 
    Watch: Illinois Game Highlights | J. Swopshire Interview | R. Hearn Interview | Coach Carmody Press Conference (AA)

    Site: Champaign, Ill.. (Assembly Hall)
    Score: Northwestern 68, No. 23/22 Illinois 54
    Records: NU (11-7, 2-3 Big Ten), Illinois (14-5, 1-4 Big Ten)
    Next NU Event: Sunday, Jan. 20 - vs. Indiana (Welsh-Ryan Arena), Noon

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Reggie Hearn scored a team-high 20 points and Northwestern led wire to wire in rolling to a 68-54 victory over No. 23/22 Illinois at Assembly Hall Thursday evening.

    Hearn paced a balanced scoring attack as NU had five players in double figures. Jared Swopshire and Alex Marcotullio scored 12 apiece, while Dave Sobolewski and Tre Demps each had 10. It was the second-consecutive victory for Northwestern at Assembly Hall.

    The Wildcats got off to a great start, making their first three field goal attempts, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Hearn and Swopshire in surging out to a 10-3 lead.

    Illinois Game Highlights

    The hot shooting continued as triples by Sobolewski and Marcotullio made NU 4-for-4 from beyond the arch. Another trey by Hearn at the midway point of the half, a runner by Swopshire and a backdoor layup by Demps increased the advantage to 25-12.

    The advantage would grow to as many as 17, 34-17, in the opening half following Kale Abrahamson's backdoor bucket with three minutes left in the stanza. Northwestern eventually took a 36-21 advantage at the break as it forced 10 Illinois turnovers and limited the Illini to 1-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.

    The hosts picked up their defensive intensity to begin the second half and quickly trimmed the NU lead to 10 just under three minutes in. However, 3-pointers by Swopshire and Marcotullio helped push the advantage back up to 45-30 at the under-12 media timeout.

    Two free throws by D.J. Richardson got Illinois back within 48-38 with 6:21 left. One from the line by Brandon Paul cut the Illini's deficit to nine with 3:53 remaining, but Demps made two from the charity stripe to make it 50-39.

    Following a Tracey Abrams basket, Swopshire converted a huge three-point play with three minutes left to push the lead back to 12.

    Northwestern sealed the win at the line as it made 26 of its 31 attempts in the contest. NU held Illinois to 38.8 percent shooting in the contest, including just three makes in 20 3-point field goal attempts, while forcing 18 turnovers.

    The Wildcats return to action at noon Sunday as it hosts second-ranked Indiana at a sold-out Welsh-Ryan Arena.

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