CHAMPAIGN --Illinois got back on track with some emphasis.
The Illini broke a three-game losing streak with an 86-60 victory against Northwestern on Saturday night at the State Farm Center.
Their 14 3-pointers on 28 attempts was two shy of tying the school record set in 2005 and one off tying a season high.
Northwestern’s four-game win streak came to an end as the Wildcats never led against the Illini. The Illini completed a season sweep of the Wildcats with the victory.
Both teams are playing for contention in postseason competition: the Illini jockeying for an NCAA tournament stop and Northwestern looking for an NIT invitation.
Illinois’ victory against Northwestern probably won’t overly impress the selection committee but a loss certainly would have been damning for the bubble team.
After shooting only 33.3 percent in a loss Wednesday at Iowa, the Illini were on fire offensively. They shot 47.4 percent from the field with five players in double digits scoring.
The game was chippy and emotional for the teams.
Illinois’ Leron Black and Northwestern’s Scottie Lindsey were each tagged with techincal fouls. The Wildcats’ Sanjay Lumpkin also was assessed a flagrant foul.
The 86 points were the most for the Illini (18-11, 8-8 Big Ten) this season in Big Ten play.
Rayvonte Rice, in his first start since returning from suspension and injury, scored 19 points with four 3-pointers. Malcolm Hill bounced back from a two-point game at Iowa for 15 points with four 3-pointers. Ahmad Starks added 17 points.
After shooting only 33.3 percent in the first half against the Illini, Northwestern improved in the second half making 50 percent. Yet the Wildcats (14-15, 5-11) trailed by as many as 27 points in the second half.