Chase Audige scored 21 points and added four steals and Northwestern won for the sixth time in seven games, defeating Illinois 73-60 on Wednesday night.
Northwestern (11-3, 2-1 Big Ten) added to what has been its best start in seven seasons. The Wildcats got 15 points from Boo Buie and 13 from Ty Berry. Buie was 2-for-13 from the field but made 11 of 12 free throws.
The Wildcats shot 32% for the game and made 7-of-18 3-pointers. Three of those makes were consecutive 3-pointers by Audige, Brooks Barnhizer and Berry that gave them a 47-43 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the second half.
While Illinois was mired in a 1-for-9 shooting slump, the Wildcats’ run reached 22-2 for a 60-45 lead with 5:53 remaining. The Wildcats would not make another field goal but went 13-for-16 from the line to close out the win.
Northwestern made 32 of 40 free throws for the game.
Matthew Mayer scored 17 points and went over 1,000 career points for Illinois. Jayden Epps had 11 points off the bench and Coleman Hawkins scored 10. Terrence Shannon Jr., third in the Big Ten at 17.8 ppg, had nine points and seven assists.
The Illini (9-5, 0-3) have lost four of their past five games against Power 5 teams, the lone win an 85-78 overtime decision over then-No. 2 Texas on Dec. 6. Illinois had won the past eight games in the series with Northwestern.
Two free throws and a pullup jumper by Audige followed by Robbie Beran’s three-point play put Northwestern up 23-17 with 6:50 remaining in the first half. Illinois bounced right back with an 8-2 run to tie it, then Northwestern edged ahead to lead 31-27 at halftime.
The Wildcats wore their “Chicago’s Own” By the Players uniforms from Under Armour for the second time this season.
Illinois plays at home against No. 14 Wisconsin on Saturday.