EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) Kendrick Nunn had a career-high 25 points, including four straight free throws in the final 7.5 seconds, and Illinois held off Northwestern for a 72-67 victory on Wednesday night.
Aaron Cosby added a season-high 19 points for the Illini (12-6, 2-3 Big Ten), which had lost three of four. Malcolm Hill and reserve Ahmad Starks finished with 10 points apiece.
Northwestern (10-7, 1-3) shot 46 percent, compared to 42 percent for Illinois, and also enjoyed a 35-30 rebounding advantage. But the Wildcats still dropped their third consecutive game.
Bryant McIntosh had 16 points for Northwestern, and Alex Olah finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Nunn had a hand in two of the game's flashiest plays on consecutive Illinois possessions in the second half. The Chicago native fed Nnanna Egwu for a big dunk, and then showed off his athleticism when he slammed home an alley-oop from Jaylon Tate for a 43-35 lead with 16:58 remaining.
Nunn's fourth 3-pointer made it 60-50 with 6:16 left, but the Illini were unable to put the Wildcats away. JerShon Cobb made two foul shots with 29 seconds left to get Northwestern within three.
The Illini then called timeout and just managed to get the ball in to Cosby, who was short on the front end of a one-and-one. Tre Demps’ spinning layup trimmed Illinois' lead to 66-65 with 12.2 seconds remaining, but Nunn made two free throws to make it a three-point game once again.
After McIntosh made two foul shots for Northwestern, Illinois threw the ball ahead to Nunn, who made two more free throws to make it 70-67 with 1.2 to go. The Wildcats then turned the ball over on the ensuing inbounds pass and Hill closed it out with two more foul shots.
Northwestern finished with 11 turnovers, compared to three for Illinois.
Nunn made each of his first three 3-point attempts and Cosby also had three early 3s as the Illini got off to a fast start from long range. Hill blocked Demps' 3-pointer and kept going for a fast-break dunk off a pass from Tate, lifting Illinois to its biggest lead of the game at 30-19 with 8:37 remaining.
But the Illini cooled off and Northwestern closed to 37-33 at the break. Cosby scored 15 in the first half, while Olah had eight points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats.