The Illinois men’s basketball team opened up conference play right before the New Year, and junior Bill Cole said the Illini’s 89-83 win against No. 25 Northwestern gave his team a fresh start to their season.
“This was big,” Cole said. “We talked about this being a new season for us. We were disappointed with how the (non-conference season) ended.”
From the very beginning of Wednesday’s game, Illinois head coach Bruce Weber yelled for his team to throw the ball inside. The more they listened to him, the better they fared against the Wildcats, who have now lost 11 straight games to the Illini.
On a snowy night, Northwestern rained 3-pointers down on an Illinois team hoping for a positive start in the Big Ten after back-to-back losses. But the Illini’s inside game ultimately ended their losing streak while also ending Northwestern’s winning streak at nine.
Northwestern shot lights out from 3-point land, opening the game 4-for-4 and finishing 16-for-47 from beyond the arc.
“They were on fire in the beginning. Every guy was hitting threes,” said junior Mike Tisdale, who proved to be a big part of Illinois’ answer to the barrage of treys.