Illinois survives late Missouri rally to retain Bragging Rights.

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ST.LOUIS—There was no panic when the shots refused to fall for 9-1/2 minutes and the 20-point lead dwindled to just five.Illinois survived the drought by turning up the intensity on the other end. ”To be honest, I don’t think we took that many bad shots,” said Malcolm Hill, who had 21 points in a 68-63 victory over Missouri in the annual Braggin’ Rights game on Wednesday night. ”We didn’t tie that to our defense, and I think we did a great job sticking with it.” Hill drove the baseline for a basket that ended the scoreless stretch and put Illinois up by seven with 6:52 to go, and hit a 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer with just over five minutes left. Kendrick Nunn hit two free throws to clinch it with seven seconds remaining and Hill yanked off his jersey during the post-game celebration, mimicking the move by Rayvonte Rice last year after hitting the winning 3-pointer as time expired. ”The first 25 minutes we played about as well as we’ve played all year at both ends of the floor,” coach John Groce said. ”The thing I was most proud about was our defense, by far.” Nunn had 19 points and season-best 11 rebounds for his first double-double for Illinois (8-5), which has won five in a row overall and three straight in the neutral site series.Wes Clark had a career best 21 points with four 3-pointers for Missouri (5-6), which has lost three in a row. Kevin Puryear added 12 points and Russell Woods had seven points and career-high 10 rebounds. ”We’ll take the good from it,” Clark said. ”We know we have some fight.” Illinois led 50-30 with 16:13 to go but missed 11 straight shots and three free throws while Missouri climbed back into it with a 15-0 run, including seven points from Clark. ”I tell him he has to be our go-to guy and tonight he brought it,” Woods said. Nunn scored eight points – including back-to-back dunks – in a 14-2 run that put Illinois in control at 35-21 with 3:39 to go in the first half. A 9-3 run to open the second half seemingly put it out of reach.There were thousands of empty seats, especially in the upper bowl on the north side of the Scottrade Center, for what annually has been the toughest ticket in town. Enthusiasm waned with the two schools combining for a 12-10 record and neither ranked for the second straight year, although those in attendance included Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog(BOOO!), Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Missouri football coaches present and past, Barry Odom and Gary Pinkel.Anderson said he had a lot more to worry about than attendance, but added: ”It’s the worst possible day of the year to play, Dec. 23,” Anderson said. ”It’s still a great atmosphere – they lost five games, we lost five games, so maybe it didn’t have that luster.” Illinois is dependent on Hill and Nunn, who entered averaging 18.5 and 18.4 points, and both delivered. Michael Finke added 16 points with a team-high three 3-pointers for the Fighting Illini, who overcame 40 percent shooting and a 43-32 rebounding deficit. ”When situations get tough, we’re looked upon to get the team going and keep the team together,” Hill said. Illinois plays Dec 30 at home against Michigan in Big Ten opener.

NIU blown away by Boise State 55-7 in Poinsettia Bowl

SAN DIEGO—Northern Illinois won the coin toss and deferred, giving Boise State the ball first.The Poinsettia Bowl was just beginning, yet it was essentially over.Jeremy McNichols scored three touchdowns, the first one 58 seconds into the game, and finished with 189 total yards as Boise State embarrassed Northern Illinois 55-7 Wednesday.The Broncos (9-4) took the opening kickoff and moved 75 yards in three plays for the fastest TD in the school’s bowl history. After completions of 7 and 39 yards by Brett Rypien, McNichols ran 29 yards for a touchdown just 58 seconds in. ”It was huge. We always start fast,” McNichols said. ”Even in practice, we come out fast and run a paced offense. That first touchdown, we practiced it all week and we hit it exactly like we were supposed to.” McNichols and the Broncos kept piling on as the running back from Long Beach scored on each of the next two possessions, on a 4-yard pass from Brett Rypien and on a 1-yard run. ”It’s fun for all of us,” McNichols said. ”When we score points, we get to throw deep, we run different formations, different shifts. It’s hard for defenses to prepare for our offense. It’s a great job by the coaches.” McNichols ran 19 times for 93 yards and caught five passes for 96 yards. The sophomore came in tied with Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry of Alabama for the national lead with 23 TDs.Rypien, a freshman, was 29 of 40 for 377 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. ”He did an amazing job,” McNichols said. ”He took control of the offense for us. He prepared in the film room and gave us everything he had. He did great.” The Broncos outgained the Huskies (8-6) 654 yards to 33.The Huskies added to their misery by losing three fumbles in the first half. Tyler Gray recovered two of them. ”Sometimes the ball just rolls your way, and that helped me today to be in the right place a couple of times,” Gray said. ”I think tonight you saw how well we really can play. We played great all season, but tonight showed how good we can be.” The Huskies were left disappointed in falling to 0-3 in the Poinsettia Bowl. ”Give credit to Boise State,” coach Rod Carey said. ”That’s a good football team and today they made all the plays. They were certainly the more physical team. When you can control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball it makes for a good day for them. It wasn’t a good performance for us.” Said center Andrew Ness: ”They were a great team and defensively they were rock-solid. But we played our worst game when we wanted to play our best.” The Huskies avoided a shutout when Aregeros Turner returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to make it 24-7 midway through the second quarter.The announced crowd of 21,501 was swallowed up by 70,000-seat Qualcomm Stadium.The Broncos led 31-7 at halftime after Tyler Rausa’s 20-yard field goal and Rypien’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Chaz Anderson.Rypien added an 18-yard scoring pass to Alec Dhaenens in the third quarter.The reserves took over in the fourth quarter. Backup running back Kelsey Young scored on a 24-yard run and backup quarterback Thomas Stuart scored on a 1-yard keeper.Boise State improved to 1-1 in the Poinsettia Bowl.

All Dallas as Sharp,Oduya & Niemi blank Hawks 4-0

DALLAS—Patrick Sharp doesn’t see it getting any easier to play the Blackhawks, even when he scores against his former team in a dominant victory that shows Dallas might be the team to beat in the Western Conference.The veteran forward simply spent too many years and won too many Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks. ”It really wasn’t that fun of a game,” Sharp said after getting a goal and an assist Tuesday night in a 4-0 victory that gave the Stars an NHL-leading 26 wins and 54 points. ”Hockey’s a game you play with a lot of intensity, and that’s hard to do against your buddies.” It was Sharp’s first regular-season game against the Hawks since going to the Stars in an offseason trade when the Blackhawks were trying save salary-cap space. He had just won his third Stanley Cup in six seasons, and spent 10 years with the Blackhawks.Sharp scored 11 seconds into the third period to give Dallas a 2-0 lead in what had been a game with few chances between the highest-scoring teams in the West. His goal sparked a 17-3 shot advantage in third period. ”I wouldn’t say we dominated,” Sharp said. ”It’s tough to dominate a team like Chicago.” Antti Niemi stopped 20 shots for his third shutout this season a night after replacing Kari Lehtonen less than 10 minutes into a 6-3 win at Minnesota when the Stars rallied from a quick 2-0 deficit.The first of five meetings between likely West contenders featured the league’s top three scorers in Patrick Kane and Dallas’ Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. And yet each team went more than 10 minutes without a shot at some point in the first two periods.Jason Spezza had the only goal in the first 40 minutes when he passed to himself to get by defenders while crossing the blue line and slipped the puck between Corey Crawford‘s pad and the post in the second period.Sharp took a pass from Benn while racing up the right wing just after the third-period faceoff and beat Crawford over his left shoulder. Jason Demers had the first of his two assists on the play.Less than 3 minutes later, Colton Sceviour tipped in a shot from the blue line by Jordie Benn for his first goal in 16 games. ”They just grabbed the momentum and never let us get it back,” said Jonathan Toews, who was held without a shot while Kane had just one. ”I think we didn’t do what we had to do to take it back, either.” Dallas defenseman Johnny Oduya had a steady if quiet reunion compared to Sharp after signing as a free agent following two Cup titles with the Blackhawks. He had three blocked shots in 20 minutes.The best moment for Niemi in his 35th career shutout came while protecting a 1-0 lead late in the second period. He turned away a shot from close range by former Dallas forward Ryan Garbutt, who was part of the Sharp trade. Niemi made a spread-eagle stop on the rebound when Andrew Desjardins tried to slip the puck under his leg. ”I thought he made a couple of big saves,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. ”We were great defensively in from of him. I don’t think they had a scoring chance in the third period.” The Stars went about 14 minutes without a shot between the first and second periods, and the Blackhawks didn’t have a shot in the final 12 minutes of a scoreless first period despite two power plays. NOTES—Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth, who lives in Dallas, dropped the ceremonial first puck. … Spezza has a nine-game point streak against the Hawks going back to his time in Ottawa. … Blackhawks defenseman Rob Scuderi left the game after getting hit in the face by a deflected puck with 8 minutes remaining. … The Stars are 5-2-0 against Central Division teams after having the worst record within the division last year at 8-14-7. The next two games are a home-and-home against another division rival, St. Louis.

Bulls turn in another clunker vs Nets

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Roughly 24 hours after one of their worst performances, the Brooklyn Nets produced one of their best on Monday night.Brook Lopez had 21 points and 12 rebounds, Thaddeus Young added 16 points and 13 rebounds and the Nets beat the Bulls 105-102 to end a five-game losing streak.Jimmy Butler had 24 points, Pau Gasol added 20 points and the Bulls lost their third straight.Butler said before the game that he didn’t regret his critical comments of first-year coach Fred Hoiberg two days earlier following a loss in New York. He was 11 for 20 from the field in this one.Hoiberg was surprised his team didn’t respond with a better effort. ”It’s very disappointing,” he said. ”This is a tough loss. You have to win your home games. We’ve dropped a couple in a row now. It’s a bad, bad loss.” Brooklyn led by as many as 12 points before taking an 85-78 advantage into the fourth.The Bulls opened the final quarter with four quick points to pull within 85-82, but the Nets responded with a 9-2 spurt to make it a double-digit advantage once again.The Bulls rallied again and Gasol hit a pair of free throws with 20.9 seconds left to make it 101-99.With the shot clock off at that point, the Bulls had to foul and Jarrett Jack sank both free throws for a 103-99 edge with 10.6 seconds to go. Lopez then blocked Butler’s shot attempt, grabbed the loose ball and was fouled with 4.8 seconds remaining. He iced the game with a pair of free throws. Butler hit a meaningless 3-pointer with a tenth of a second left. ”Butler made some tough shots, obviously, but for the most part we stuck together and clamped down defensively, limiting them to one shot,” Lopez said. ”That gives you a lot of confidence when you’re coming down the other end in control of the game.” Bulls: Hoiberg changed the starting lineup on Monday. Nikola Mirotic started at small forward in place of Tony Snell. ”Just to change the roles a little bit and get a little more size in there,” Hoiberg said. The main reason, though, more likely was to create playing time for rookie Bobby Portis. With Mirotic starting, Portis played the backup minutes at power forward, while Snell, who has started 21 games, was out of the rotation.Joakim Noah left the game late in the third quarter with what the team called a left shoulder sprain. ”The X-ray turned out to be negative, so that was positive,” Noah said. ”We’ll see how I feel (Tuesday).”Noah was defending on a play when Brooklyn’s Andrea Bargnani, after jumping, came down hard on Noah’s left arm, bending it back awkwardly.Noah, who was called for a foul on the play, ran around the court in obvious pain with his left shoulder slumped over for a moment before heading off the court and into the tunnel leading to the Bulls locker room. ”Something popped out and then went back in,” he said. ”It’s pretty painful.” Noah, who had his arm in a sling, will have an MRI on Tuesday. The Bulls visit the Oklahoma Thunder on Christmas Day.

NU now 11-1 after 103-67 rout of Sacret Heart

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

EVANSTON—Once Northwestern’s shooters found their touch, there was just no stopping them.Alex Olah scored 21 points, Tre Demps added 17, and the Wildcats pulled away from Sacred Heart 103-67 on Monday night for their eighth straight win.Scottie Lindsey and Nathan Taphorn each added 11 points as Northwestern (11-1) set a season high for scoring by shooting 61 percent (36 for 59) from the floor. That included going 15 for 29 from 3-point range – 10 of 17 in the second half. ”We know we’ve got the offense,” Olah said. ”We have weapons all over the court.’If you stop one guy, there will be another guy who can shoot and make the basket.” Olah became the 33rd player in Northwestern history to record more than 1,000 points in his career. He entered with 996.But the best stat for Northwestern coach Chris Collins might have been how his team handled the ball in this one. The Wildcats committed only 10 turnovers and had 30 assists on their 36 made baskets. ”Offensively, I loved the way we shared the ball,” Collins said. ”I think at least all nine of our guys (who played) scored at least seven points, which shows a collective effort.” Cane Broome had a game-high 26 points and Quincy McKnight added 15 for Sacred Heart (1-9), which dropped its ninth straight following a season-opening win over Quinnipiac. The Pioneers shot 40 percent (22 of 55). ”You’ve got to tip your hat to them,” Sacred Heart coach Anthony Latina said. ”That could be one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country.” Northwestern suffered its lone loss to current-No. 7 North Carolina on Nov. 23. Coming off a 78-70 overtime win over crosstown rival DePaul on Saturday, the Wildcats took charge of this one late in the first half, then blew it open with a 23-5 run in the second.Northwestern led 48-32 at the half and trailed only once in the opening 20 minutes at 4-2.oth teams went cold from floor during a scoring lull midway through the opening half, but Northwestern pulled out of it and went ahead. Sacred Heart had a dry spell of just over four minutes, while Northwestern got back on track and outscored the Pioneers 16-2 in one run.Northwestern ended up outshooting Sacred Heart 55.6 to 39.3 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes.Olah was a force from underneath in the first half, connecting for 15 points and pulling in four of his five rebounds.Northwestern outscored Sacred Heart 55-35 in the final 20 minutes.Demps picked up his shooting in the second half and hit 4 of 8 3-pointers for the game. Lindsey and Taphorn also joined Northwestern’s 21 for 32 (65.6 percent) second-half shooting party as the Wildcats turned the game into a rout.Northwestern: The win gave Northwestern its best 12-game start since the 1982-83 season when the Wildcats began 11-1. … The Wildcats’ previous scoring high this season was 90 points, versus New Orleans on Nov. 28.Sacred Heart: The Pioneers not only met the Wildcats for the first time, it was their first game against a team from Illinois.Northwestern last scored 103 points in a 103-94 double-overtime win over Dartmouth on Dec. 29, 1991…..A pair of brothers squared off in this one. Sacred Heart senior Tevin Falzon and Northwestern freshman Aaron Falzon both started. They’re from Newton, Mass. and their family was on hand to watch……”To see both their boys play, I’m sure it was a real special moment for the family,” Collins said. NOTES—According to Collins, the game with Sacred Heart was scheduled after Aaron committed to the Wildcats and Sacred Heart Deputy of Athletics Brad Hurlbut – who used to work at Northwestern – reached out…..When asked if reaching 1,000 points was a milestone for him, Olah said, ”I’m from Romania. I don’t really know if it’s a big deal, but if they say, of course, it’s a big accomplishment.”….Northwestern hosts Loyola (Md.) on Sunday

Vikes hammer Bears as Bridgewater tosses 4 TD passes

MINNEAPOLIS—Teddy Bridgewater turned in a flawless performance, another sign that Minnesota’s franchise quarterback is on the right track.The season has brought some struggles, but this is just what the Vikings envisioned for Bridgewater’s second year.Bridgewater threw a career-high four touchdowns and ran for another one, and the Vikings took a significant step toward the playoffs with a 38-17 victory Sunday over the Bears. ”These last two weeks, I’ve seen a different look in his eyes,” teammate Adrian Peterson said. ”I really don’t have to say much to him.” Bridgewater completed 17 of 20 passes for 231 yards without a turnover, connecting twice with Stefon Diggs for scores. Jerick McKinnon and Zach Line had the other touchdown catches on a remarkably productive afternoon for all of Minnesota’s running backs.Peterson missed some time because of an injury to his left ankle, but he finished with 63 yards on 18 attempts to maintain his NFL rushing lead.The Vikings (9-5) stopped their two-game losing streak and assured themselves of at least a wild-card spot with a win at home next weekend over the New York Giants.Other NFC teams could lose and clinch it for them before they arrive at the stadium for the Sunday night game.The Bears (5-9) lost their third game in a row, giving the Vikings 14 second-half points on a lost fumble and an interception thrown by Jay Cutler. ”It doesn’t matter who we would’ve played today, we weren’t going to win playing that kind of offensive football,” Cutler said. The Vikings dominated from start to finish, driving 93 yards in 13 plays to take the lead they never relinquished when Bridgewater floated a perfectly placed 15-yard pass over the shoulder of Diggs on a fade route for the touchdown.McKinnon snagged a short pass from Bridgewater and as he was being brought down held his knee above the turf long enough to get the ball over the goal line for a 17-7 lead with 26 seconds left before halftime.The game only got better after that for Bridgewater, who became the first Vikings player to throw for four touchdowns in a game since Brett Favre on Jan. 17, 2010, against the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs. ”It shows that when we do put the ball in the air, we’re pretty good,” Bridgewater said. Cutler threw two touchdown passes, including one to Alshon Jeffery in the second quarter that pulled the Bears within 10-7, but he took five sacks and had a frustrated look on his face all afternoon with little help from the line in front of him. Jeffery aggravated his hamstring injury in the third quarter. ”That definitely has an effect. He’s our No. 1 receiver,” coach John Fox said. The Bears surprised the Vikings with an onside kick they recovered to start the second half, but three plays later Brian Robison powered his way past right tackle Kyle Long to slap the ball out of Cutler’s hand during a sack near midfield.Robison recovered, Cutler gave Long an icy stare on their way off the field and Diggs followed a little later with a 33-yard catch and run into the end zone. Diggs was wide open, and he bulled his way into the end zone with nickel back Alan Ball on his back to essentially put the Bears out of reach.The game hit bottom for the Bears in the fourth quarter when Cutler floated a screen pass to Matt Forte that fell short, allowing backup defensive end Justin Trattou to intercept it at the Bears 16.Bridgewater followed with the exclamation point, a 12-yard dash up the middle he finished by launching himself into the air at the goal line to make sure he got across. NOTES—Exactly five years ago, the Bears beat the Vikings here 40-10 on a wintry Monday night after an earlier snowstorm punctured the Metrodome roof and diverted the game to the University of Minnesota campus. That was Favre’s final game. … Forte caught a late touchdown pass and finished with 57 yards on six receptions, to go with 47 yards rushing on eight attempts. … Blair Walsh made a 53-yard field goal for Minnesota that bounced off the left upright and ricocheted through early in the second quarter.

Toews OT goal gives Hawks 4-3 win over Sharks

Jonathan Toews scored at 2:21 of overtime to give the surging Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.Toews skated in with Patrick Kane for a 2-on-1 and tipped home a nice pass for his 11th goal.Kane scored his 21st in the first period to help the Hawks win for the second straight day and seventh time in nine games overall. The star forward has two goals and two assists in three games since his 26-game point streak ended last Tuesday against Colorado.Joonas Donskoi had a goal and an assist for San Jose, which has dropped eight of 10. Tommy Wingels, a native of nearby Evanston, and Joe Pavelski also scored.San Jose grabbed a 3-2 lead on Pavelski’s 16th goal at 14:45 of the second. Paul Martin‘s shot was tipped by Joe Thornton and got past Dennis Rasmussen before it got to Pavelski in front of the net.The Blackhawks killed off two penalties in the third before Andrew Shaw made a great move to set up his sixth of the season. The scrappy forward drove to the net and stayed with the puck when Martin Jones tried to poke it away, and then beat the goalie into the right side of the net for the tying score at 6:51.San Jose almost jumped in front again, but Corey Crawford made a terrific glove save on a shot by Donskoi with 8:57 remaining in the third. Crawford finished with 33 stops, and Artem Anisimov also scored for the Blackhawks,who played without Marian Hossa after the veteran winger was a surprise scratch with an upper-body injury. Hossa, who turns 37 on Jan. 12, played 23 shifts and 16:50 in a 3-2 shootout win Saturday at Buffalo, including two shifts in overtime.The Sharks were without Joel Ward for the first time this season. The forward was scratched with an unspecified injury after he was on the receiving end of a boarding penalty by Ottawa defenseman Mark Borowiecki in the final seconds of the Sharks’ 4-2 loss on Friday night.While each team was short-handed, neither side had any trouble scoring early on.There were four goals in the first 15:39. Anisimov scored his 12th after a bad turnover by Martin, but Donskoi responded with a nifty move on a breakaway and Wingels scored on a power play for his third of the season, giving the Sharks a 2-1 lead with 6:18 left in the period.Kane then tied it with a rebound score. He has at least one point in 32 of the Hawks 35 games. NOTES—Jones made 28 saves. … San Jose forward Ben Smith returned from a concussion for his first game since Oct. 31. It also was his first game in Chicago since he was acquired in a trade with the Blackhawks on March 2. ”It’s great that he’s back playing his first game in Chicago,” coach Peter DeBoer said. ”It’s probably appropriate.” … Blackhawks forward Brandon Mashinter returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for the previous two games. Mashinter made his NHL debut with San Jose in 2010. … Toews played in his 600th NHL game. … Phillip Danault got an assist on Shaw’s goal for his first NHL point in his fourth career game.

Exhusted Bulls with little to give against Knicks

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

NEW YORK—Quickly trailing by 10 against a tired team, coach Derek Fisher had a simple message for his New York Knicks. ”Wake up, basically,” he said. The Bulls, coming off a four-overtime marathon, never quite could.Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points and the Knicks beat the weary Bulls 107-91 on Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.A night after a lengthy loss in the United Center, the Bulls started well and had a strong third quarter, but the rest of the game mostly belonged to the Knicks.”You’re a little fatigued but I feel everybody felt it tonight. I think everybody gave it their all, at least what they had, and just didn’t have it tonight,” Bulls star Derrick Rose said. Arron Afflalo added 18 points for New York, which got back to .500 at 14-14 after winning only 17 games last season. Lance Thomas scored 13 off the bench.Anthony said the Knicks, who also played Friday, knew not to take the Bulls lightly. ”They’re a very experienced group, so we couldn’t take no chances with that,” Anthony said. ”I thought after those first couple minutes we played great basketball.” Joakim Noah had a season-high 21 points for the Bulls in his first start of the season. Rookie forward Bobby Portis had the best night of his brief career with 20 points and 11 rebounds.The Bulls’ 147-144 home loss to Detroit finished about 20 hours before Saturday’s tip-off at Madison Square Garden, and they didn’t get to their New York hotel until after 4 a.m. Pau Gasol didn’t even make the trip after playing 48 minutes Friday, remaining behind in Chicago for rest and treatment for some recent soreness.Jimmy Butler and Rose both started after playing 56 and 54 minutes, respectively, but were without their usual sharpness. Butler was 4 of 11 for 12 points a night after scoring 43, while Rose played 20 minutes and had six points on 3-of-10 shooting.Coach Fred Hoiberg said the Bulls didn’t move the ball well, but part of that might have been because their legs weren’t moving well, either. ”There’s no doubt about that, but you’ve got to find a way to muster up energy and fight through the tough times,” Hoiberg said. ”I didn’t feel we did a very good job of that tonight.” Still, the Bulls looked fine early in racing to a 12-2 lead. But the Knicks dominated the remainder of the first quarter, particularly when the teams went to their reserves, and led 25-18 entering the second.Anthony scored 19 in the first half, but the Bulls were down only nine after three. The Knicks’ reserves then opened the fourth with eight quick points to extend it to 85-68 and they remained comfortably ahead from there.New York shot 50 percent against a Bulls team that came in limiting teams to an NBA-low 41.3 percent but was understandably a step slow in this one. NOTES—Noah grabbed 10 rebounds and became the Bulls’ career leader in offensive boards, passing Horace Grant (1,888). … The Bulls had been 2-0 on the second night of back-to-back games…..New York had lost three straight and 10 of the last 12 meetings. … The Knicks outscored the Bulls by 12 points in the 4:18 that reserves Kyle O’Quinn and Thomas played in the first quarter…..Portis, a first-round pick from Arkansas, had appeared in just four games and totaled 21 points over 27 minutes. Hoiberg said the 6-foot-11 forward would get a chance Saturday and he took advantage of it, easily surpassing his previous bests of 10 points and two rebounds….The Bulls host Brooklyn on Monday.

NU rallies past DePaul in Overtime

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

ROSEMONT—Northwestern, a team of veteran players, put together a comeback that was led by the new guy on Saturday.Freshman Aaron Falzon looked much like a veteran as he hit two 3-pointers in overtime – after going 0-for-6 in regulation – and the Wildcats beat DePaul 78-70.The Wildcats (10-1) win over the Blue Demons has them off to their best start in four years.Northwestern coach Chris Collins said that’s what he expects of Falzon, who is on the court because he’s a shooter. ”If he’s open and doesn’t shoot the ball with great confidence then he’s hurting us,” Collins said. ”I don’t care if he misses six in a row or makes six in a row he has to shoot the seventh one.” It was the fifth game where Falzon scored in double figures, including his debut game when Falzon set a school record for a freshman by scoring 20 against UMass Lowell. ”If you don’t play with that kind of confidence then you shouldn’t be out there and everybody on our team has great confidence in what Aaron brings,” Collins said.”He really wasn’t heard of the whole game and we go to him in overtime and he hits two huge shots,” Collins said. ”Our guys just refuse to lose in those situations. I love the fearlessness of a kid like Aaron Falzon.” One of Northwestern’s more experienced leaders was critical in the comeback as well.Tre Demps also came on late. After scoring just two points in the first half, he finished with 18.Demps said offseason dedication by several veteran players is paying off. ”Things we’ve been through, things like Navy SEAL training, guys being more dedicated … those things add up, and it shows on the court,” Demps said. ”When you miss a couple shots, you know you’ve practiced enough you can make that next shot. All the hard work is starting to show.” Demps was selected as the WALDO FISHER-FRANK MCGRATH AWARD winner as the games MVP. The scond time he’s won that honor.Demps missed a jumper at the buzzer that would have won the game in regulation for Northwestern, which had trailed most of the second half and was down by seven with less than five minutes to play.Northwestern switched to a zone defense in the second half that seemed to stymie DePaul’s attack. Blue Demons coach Dave Leitao said the team seemed to stop clicking. ”The last three, four minutes of the game and overtime it slipped, and then offensively, even before they went to the zone, we stopped executing the way we had been earlier in the game,” Leitao said.They play with an air of confidence,” Leitao said about Northwestern. ”It showed when it’s supposed to show up, which is late-game situations. … They got a couple key threes, which they hadn’t gotten in previous moments of the game. That’s what good teams do, they execute, especially when they need to.” It was the seventh straight win for NU.Myke Henry had a game-high 24 points and eight rebounds for DePaul (5-6).Sanjay Lumpkin and Alex Olah each contributed 14 points for Northwestern, and Bryant McIntosh added 13. Lumpkin, Olah and Demps all also had 7 rebounds.Aaron Simpson added 13 points and eight rebounds for DePaul who’s leading scorer on the season, Billy Garrett, was held to seven points after getting in early foul trouble.Northwestern: The win gave Northwestern its best 11-game start to a season since 2011 when the Wildcats also opened 10-1.DePaul: Simpson, who averages 8.5 points per game, scored the Blue Demons’ first 10 points.Northwestern’s Scottie Lindsey fouled out with 3:46 remaining in overtime. He had five points and four rebounds. The Wildcats dealt with foul trouble late in the game – four other players had four. Northwestern graduate transfer Joey van Zegeren isn’t ready to return after missing three games with a foot injury, Collins said. ”We’re hoping after Christmas – he’s going to be re-evaluated this week.” Collins said Northwestern’s hot start is good for college basketball in the Chicago area, which hasn’t seen much excitement in a couple of decades. ”It’s important to both of our programs as we’re building in this area to provide good basketball,” Collins said. DePaul hosts George Washington on Tuesday….Northwestern hosts Sacred Heart on Monday.

Ramblers shoot way to win over Flames

Montel James scored 14 points to lead a balanced attack and Loyola pulled away from UIC 64-47 on Saturday.Milton Doyle added 13 points, Devon Turk 12, and Donte Ingram and Earl Peterson had 11 apiece for the Ramblers (6-5). Host Loyola made 20 of 25 free throws (80 percent), scored 24 points on 21 UIC turnovers and outscored the Flames 26-18 in the paint.Trailing by three at halftime, the Flames went up 27-25 on Dominique Matthews‘ 3-pointer, but Loyola replied with an 11-4 run in which Doyle scored seven points for a 36-31 lead. Turk hit back-to-back 3s amid a 10-0 run and the Ramblers led by double digits the rest of the way.Gabe Snider scored 11 points and Tai Odiase had three blocks for UIC (1-8), which shot 35 percent from the field.