Feb. 18, 1998
Wildcats Can't Handle Illini
Men's Hoops Goes Down, 69-57
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Eleven minutes into the game against Northwestern and
Kevin Turner, Illinois' leading scorer, had yet to score.
But instead of hesitating, he made a one-handed grab of a pass that appeared
on its way out of bounds, tossed it up and had the first three of his 28 points
Wednesday night to lead the Illini to a 69-57 victory over the Wildcats.
"Just because I miss a couple of shots, that's not going to stop me from
shooting," Turner said. "I know my guys on the team have confidence in me,
the coaches have confidence in me. That's what they want me to do is go out and
shoot, so I can't quit on them because I miss three or four shots."
Combined with Purdue's 88-69 loss to Iowa, the win moved No. 23 Illinois
(19-8 overall, 11-3 Big Ten) into second place in the Big Ten. Michigan State,
with a 12-2 conference record, is in first and Purdue, at 10-3, is third.
The Illini made 11 of their 18 3-point shots in the game, which was their
19th straight win over the Wildcats (9-14, 2-11) at Assembly Hall.
Turner finished 10-of-21 from the field, and Northwestern coach Kevin
O'Neill said Illinois' leading scorer "has no conscience" when it comes to
putting up shot after shot.
"Plus we did a horrible job guarding him, not that he didn't make tough
shots," O'Neill said.
Illinois led by eight at halftime and outscored the Wildcats 15-3 in the
first seven minutes of the second half to take a 46-26 lead. Nine of those
points came from consecutive 3-pointers from Matt Heldman, Jerry Hester and
Turner that kicked off the half for the Illini.
Northwestern's Evan Eschmeyer said he couldn't think of a worse way for the
Wildcats to start the half.
"Heldman, Hester and Turner shoot the ball so well that you can't give them
a look or the ball will go in," he said.
After the Illini run, the Wildcats got no closer than 15 until the end of
Northwestern was led by Eschmeyer with 18 points and 10 rebounds, his 17th
double-double of the season. Sean Wink added 13 points and Julian Bonner had
Besides Turner, the only other Illinois player in double figures was Hester
with 18. Illinois, which was outrebounded 34-24, was led by Brian Johnson with
The Wildcats had a 13-12 lead with nine minutes to go in the first half, but
Illinois made four of its six first-half 3-point shots after that and Turner
converted on a three-point play as the Illini took a 31-23 lead into