Illinois upsets No. 25 Wildcats
Mike Tisdale’s career performance ruined Northwestern’s return to
The 7-foot-1 center had a career-high 31 points and grabbed
11 rebounds to lead Illinois to an 89-83 overtime victory over the
25th-ranked Wildcats on Wednesday night in the Big Ten opener for
Tisdale, who has had his share of critics during his career,
led the Illini over Northwestern, which was last ranked in January
1969, when the poll was still a Top 20.
“I love it to be honest. Anytime I get a challenge it?s just
kind of fun to shut people down,” Tisdale said. “My teammates found
me when I was open, and I was able to put it in the basket.
“The guards taking some outside shots was big for us, and
obviously me and Mike Davis got the post touches we needed.”
Davis had 20 points and 17 rebounds — his conference-leading
seventh double-double — for the Illini (9-4), who beat
Northwestern for the 11th straight time.
John Shurna had 27 points, including four 3-pointers, for the
“We got off to a good start, but from the get-go, we weren’t
able to contain Tisdale,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. “We
just didn’t have an answer for him the entire evening.”
Ranked seventh in the nation averaging 9.55 3-pointers per
game, the Wildcats converted a 3 on their first four possessions to
take a 12-4 lead. The Wildcats made 16 3-pointers in the game,
shooting 24 percent from behind the arc.
Trailing 42-33 at halftime, Illinois crept back into the game
by picking apart Northwestern’s 1-3-1 zone. A 19-8 run capped by
consecutive 3s by freshman Brandon Paul gave Illinois a 56-55 lead.
“To our kids credit, at halftime we could have laid down and
let them run over us,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. “Our goal
was to come out and win the first five minutes of the second half.”
After exchanging baskets, the Illini extended their lead to
six points on a dunk by Tisdale with 3:33 left in regulation. But
the Wildcats, led by Drew Crawford’s five points in 3 minutes,
closed with an 11-5 run to force overtime.
The Illini struggled to defend the perimeter in the first
half, allowing the Wildcats to make 11 of 23 3-point attempts.
A second-half defensive adjustment of switching on screens
limited Northwesterns open looks from behind the arc which resulted
in Illinois allowing only five 3-point field goals after halftime.
“In the first half I think (Illinois) was pretty responsive
to some of our little drives, dribble penetration, we got some open
looks that way,” Carmody said. “In the second half I don’t think we
were testing them out enough to tell you the truth. I felt we were
settling a little bit for 3s it didn’t seem we probed the defense
The Wildcats, who host No. 11 Michigan State on Saturday,
attempted 84 shots and committed only three turnovers.
The game featured 13 lead changes and six ties.