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Northwestern beats Illinois for first time in last nine tries

Jan 4, 2023; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Northwestern Wildcats guard Chase Audige (1) celebrates a three-point basket against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the first half at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Audige scored a game-high 21 points and Boo Buie chipped in 15 to guide Northwestern to a 73-60 win against visiting Illinois on Wednesday night in Evanston, Ill.

The Wildcats (11-3, 2-1 Big Ten) closed a six-game homestand at 5-1 while reversing a troubling trend against their in-state conference rival.

Illinois (9-5, 0-3) saw its eight-game winning streak against Northwestern snapped. The Fighting Illini scored just 17 points in the final 12:46 and committed 15 turnovers compared with eight for the Wildcats.

Illinois capitalized on Northwestern’s 0-for-8 start from the floor after halftime, using a 13-5 run to take a 40-36 lead with 14:52 to play.

The Wildcats regrouped soon after, though, as a 13-0 spurt provided an eight-point lead that swelled to as many as 15 down the stretch.

Matthew Mayer led Illinois with 17 points. The Baylor transfer surpassed 1,000 career points in the closing minutes. Jayden Epps scored 11 points, Coleman Hawkins had 10 and Dain Dainja contributed nine points and nine rebounds.

Ty Berry scored 13 points for the Wildcats. Julian Roper II and Brooks Barnhizer each had seven rebounds.

Northwestern overcame 30.3 percent shooting in the first half to take a 31-27 lead into the break. Audige led all scorers with 13 points while hitting a trio of 3-pointers — the only Wildcats player to connect from deep before intermission.

Illinois didn’t attempt a free throw in the first half but shot 9-for-12 from inside the arc compared to 3-for-14 outside it. The Fighting Illini didn’t visit the free throw line until Dainja split a pair with 13:23 remaining.

Illinois was 6-for-10 from the line overall, while Northwestern went 32-for-40. Illinois outrebounded the Wildcats 38-35.

Audige has scored in double figures in 12 of his 14 games this season.

Northwestern will try to secure a regular-season sweep when it visits Illinois on Feb. 23.

–Field Level Media