Northwestern, Illinois roll to easy victories

Wildcats take down DePaul, while Illini beat Alabama A&M

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Chase Audige

Northwestern guard Chase Audige (1) celebrates with center Matthew Nicholson (34) after Nicholson scored a basket during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against DePaul in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022. Northwestern won 83-45.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Chase Audige scored a career-high 28 points and Northwestern hit 13 3-pointers in posting an 83-45 win over cross-town rival DePaul on Saturday afternoon in Evanston

The in-state rivals played for the first time since 2019. Northwestern leads the all-time series 22-14 and has won five of the last six meetings.

The Wildcats (8-2) came into the game boasting the seventh-ranked defense in the country at 56.8 points allowed per game and held the Blue Demons to almost a dozen points under that average. Northwestern took a 39-26 lead at the half and held DePaul to 19 second-half points, starting the second half with a 12-2 run to push its lead to 51-28 six minutes into the half.

Audige shot 11 of 19 from the field and hit 6 of 10 from 3-point range while making five steals. Boo Buie hit 4 of 12 from distance and added 17 points as Northwestern shot 29 of 67 from the field (43.3%) and hit 13 of 33 shots from beyond the arc. The Wildcats outrebounded DePaul 43-33.

Eral Penn and Philmon Gebrewhit each scored 11 points and Umoja Gibson added another 10 to lead DePaul (6-6). The Blue Devils were held to just 30.8% shooting from the field (16 of 52) and were 6 of 21 from distance.

Illinois 68, Alabama A&M 47

Matthew Mayer scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to help No. 18 Illinois overcome Alabama A&M’s comeback push for a 68-47 win Saturday in Champaign.

Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 18 and Mayer went 7 of 8 and scored 15 points in the second half to help Illinois (8-3) close out the win.

Garrett Hicks scored 13 points and Messiah Thompson added 12 for the Bulldogs (3-7).

Olisa Blaise Akonobi’s dunk highlighted a 16-0 run out of the half as the Bulldogs shaved the deficit to three and held the Illini to a 1 of 18 shooting stretch over about 13 minutes.

Thompson scored seven straight for the Bulldogs before Dailin Smith added a pair of free throws to cut it to a 38-37 Illinois lead with 10:54 to go.

“They look at us on the schedule and that’s a game, Big Ten team, ranked No. 18 in the country (thinking), ‘We’re going to win that one,’” Bulldogs coach Otis Hughley Jr. said. “Mentally, you don’t have all your guys there, so we were hoping to exploit that.”

Coleman Hawkins’ free throws broke an eight-minute Illinois scoring drought and Mayer added a pair of layups during a 10-2 run that pushed the lead back to nine points at the under-8 timeout.

“With our team, you never whose night it can be,” Shannon said. “I’m just happy for Matt, who has been working so hard getting his body right and conditioning.”

The Bulldogs struggled to establish any scoring rhythm in the first half, missing 10 consecutive attempts from long distance after Hicks made one for the game’s first bucket. The Illini turned them over nine times and held them to 6 of 30 shooting for the half.

“We’ve got 16 new guys, it’s the first year,” Hughley said. “They’ve never been in a Power Five arena before, none of these guys, and played to win. Last year, if they’d have played this game and got down, they’d have gotten beat by 50.”

AP

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