Boo Buie finished with 29 points and host Northwestern scored the first nine points of overtime to claim a 96-91 Big Ten upset of No. 10 Illinois on Wednesday night in Evanston, Ill.
Brooks Barnhizer contributed 23 points for Northwestern (14-5, 5-3), which orchestrated a dramatically different result from the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 2, when the Wildcats never led during a 30-point loss on Illinois’ home floor.
Ty Berry added 14 points and Matthew Nicholson posted 12 points and eight rebounds in a game that featured 18 lead changes and 15 ties as neither team led by more than five during regulation.
Coleman Hawkins paced Illinois (14-5, 5-3) with 22 points and 13 rebounds while Marcus Domask added 22 points and six assists. Quincy Guerrier notched his sixth double-double in the last eight games with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Terrence Shannon Jr. finished with 12 points as he returned to Illinois’ starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 22. He came off the bench Sunday in his first game since returning from his Dec. 27 suspension that cost him six games.
When Buie, who also had seven assists, drove to the basket and flung in a hook with one second left, he gave the Wildcats a 34-32 lead at the break — their first edge since 14-11. Illinois trailed despite owning an 11-1 advantage on the offensive glass.
Both teams came out red-hot in the second half as Illinois cashed in its first four 3-pointers and Northwestern went 3 of 4 from long range. The rivals swapped the lead six times in the first four minutes of the half before the Wildcats built a 49-45 lead with 14:50 to go. Berry drilled two 3-pointers and a 15-foot pullup in an 85-second stretch.
Illinois trailed 60-57 with 7:48 left when Berry was whistled for a flagrant foul for hitting Shannon in the face inadvertently while trying to block a violent dunk attempt. Shannon hit both free throws, then Luke Goode hit two free throws on Illinois’ subsequent possession to regain a 61-60 lead with 7:39 to go.
That inspired another flurry of ties and lead changes, capped by Shannon’s 3-pointer that pulled Illinois into a 72-72 knot with 3:39 to play.
Illinois had a chance to win in regulation, but Domask’s contested pullup in the lane with five seconds left rimmed off.
Northwestern took control two minutes into overtime when Buie swished a 3-pointer, then fed Barnhizer for a four-point play that produced an 83-76 lead — the game’s first margin of more than 5.