CHAMPAIGN—In a matter of minutes, Illinois guard Kendrick Nunn helped turn the game around for his team.He scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half as Illinois silenced Minnesota 84-71 on Sunday.Malcolm Hill added 22 points with seven rebounds and five assists. The duo combined to outscore Minnesota 33-31 in the second half.Illinois (13-16, 5-11 Big Ten) shot 73.9 percent from the field in the second half, using a 29-8 run to open up the lead and run away with the game. ”I love the response that I saw,” Illinois coach John Groce said. ”Obviously, we didn’t play well in the first half.” Minnesota (8-20, 2-14) led the entirety of the first half.But the Illini had nine steals in the second half to turn it around. ”Our defense jumpstarts our offense,” Hill said. The Golden Gophers were playing without leading scorer Nate Mason (13.8 points per game), as well as guards Kevin Dorsey and Dupree McBrayer, who all missed Sunday’s game for a violation of team rules. ”Today was unfortunately not as much about wins and losses but more about the culture of our program,” said Minnesota coach Rich Pitino. ”It was about making sure our guys understand that this thing is bigger than just basketball and we’re going to do what we believe is right.” Mason has played more minutes than any Golden Gopher this season (averaging 32.6). Pitino said it was ”challenging” to adjust to losing three guards prior to the game.Jordan Murphy stepped up early for the Gophers, putting up 17 points and eight rebounds in the first 20 minutes. But Illinois held the freshman to five points in the second half while he turned the ball over six times. Murphy ended the game with 22 points and 10 rebounds.Minnesota used an 11-0 run to open the game and jump out to a 40-32 halftime lead.Stephon Sharp had a career-high 19 points, while Joey King added 17 for Minnesota before fouling out with 5:11 left.Illinois freshman Jalen Coleman-Lands had 18 points in 22 minutes, going 5 for 6 from 3-point range.
For all the star power with the Washington Capitals and Blackhawks, it was a pretty connection between fourth-line forwards that proved to be the difference.Richard Panik kicked the puck from behind the net to a streaking Dennis Rasmussen for the rookie’s fourth goal at 12:47 of the third, and the new-look Blackhawks topped the NHL-leading Capitals 3-2 on Sunday. ”I thought it was a beautiful pass,” Joel Quenneville said with a grin, ”one of best passes I’ve seen all year.” Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane also scored as the Blackhawks (39-20-5) won for only the third time in their last eight games. Corey Crawford made 28 saves, helping his team leapfrog idle Dallas for the top spot in the Western Conference with 83 points.The Blackhawks were coming off disappointing losses to Minnesota and Nashville, but the defending Stanley Cup champions got a boost from two of their newest players acquired in a flurry of moves last week. Andrew Ladd got an assist in his return to the Blackhawks after he was reacquired in a trade with Winnipeg on Thursday night, and Tomas Fleischmann had a solid debut after he came over in a trade with Montreal on Friday. ”It was nice to be around familiar faces from the guys who were around when I was here before,” Ladd said. ”There are a lot of things different – they’ve changed this whole room around – and a lot of new faces, but just fun to be back.” Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored for Washington (45-12-4), which had won five of six. Braden Holtby made 20 saves while dropping to 39-7-3 on the year. ”You can definitely see why their top players are their top players,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. ”I thought today had a little bit of a playoff feel. It’s just another good experience for us.” The nationally televised second meeting of the season between two of the NHL’s top teams – Washington won 4-1 way back on Oct. 15 – was a highly entertaining affair played at a breakneck pace for much of the day in front of a season-high crowd of 22,218 at the United Center.With the Capitals enjoying a 6-on-3 power play, Kuznetsov stuffed home his 19th goal from a tough angle with 3:21 left, trimming the lead to one. But the Blackhawks killed off the rest of defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson‘s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and held on for the victory. ”That was a heck of a hockey game today, I thought,” Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen said. ”There was a lot of high pace, good scoring chances, good goaltending, a lot of good stuff out there. Unfortunately we were on the short end of it, but it was a good game, good team.” The score was tied at 1 in the second period before Teuvo Teravainen set up Toews’ 22nd goal with a slick pass over the middle to the captain. Ladd helped get the puck to an open Teravainen off a scramble in front.Ladd previously played for the Hawks for two-plus seasons, helping the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010. He got a loud ovation when he was introduced with the starting lineup before the game.Rasmussen’s first goal since Dec. 19, stopping a 29-game drought, made it 3-1. Panik used his right foot to slide it to Rasmussen in front. ”It was a really nice pass,” Rasmussen said. ”I actually saw him have the puck under his skate and kinda realized he’s gonna make that play. I’ve seen it done in practice. I was ready for it.” The Capitals felt there might have been a missed icing call on the sequence that led to Rasmussen’s goal. ”Chicago’s a good measuring stick but we were down on what we thought were icing calls,” Trotz said. ”It was a tough night for the linesmen tonight, I’ll tell you.” NOTES—The Blackhawks scratched F Dale Weise and D Christian Ehrhoff. Weise and Ehrhoff were acquired in separate trades on Friday, and Weise is working through a visa issue.. … Crawford matched his career high with his 33rd victory.
MILWAUKEE—J.J. Panoske made four 3-pointers and scored 20 points, Jordan Johnson set a school record with 15 assists, and UW-Milwaukee defeated UIC 98-85 on Sunday in a regular-season finale.As the fifth seed, Milwaukee (19-12, 10-8) will play No. 8 Northern Kentucky and No. 10 UIC (5-24, 3-15) will face No. 3 Wright State in the Horizon League tournament Saturday.Led by Johnson, who scored 11 points, the Panthers had 25 assists on 30 field goals. Matt Tiby and Austin Arians, the latter with five 3-pointers, both scored 19. Akeem Springs added 13. Milwaukee shot 49 percent and was 15 of 33 on 3-pointers.Dikembe Dixson scored 29 points and Gabe Snider, with six 3-pointers, had a career-high 20 points for the Flames.UWM scored the first seven points in the second half to take the lead for good. A 17-4 run gave the Panthers a 20-point lead with two minutes remaining.
Damian Lillard scored 31 points and the Portland Trail Blazers won for the 16th time in 20 games, beating the short-handed Bulls 103-95 on Saturday night.Lillard hit the 30-point mark for the sixth time in seven games, and Mason Plumlee added 16 points and nine rebounds. Gerald Henderson scored 13 and the Trail Blazers got back to winning after blowing a 21-point lead in a loss to Houston two nights earlier.Portland led by 10 at halftime and hung on to hand the Bulls their second loss in two nights.The Bulls got a triple-double from Pau Gasol along with big performances from E’Twaun Moore and Doug McDermott, but came up short with Derrick Rose (sore right hamstring) missing his third straight game.Gasol had 22 points, 16 rebounds and a career-high 14 assists. Moore scored all but two of his 19 in the second half. McDermott scored 18, his career-best fifth straight game in double digits, and Bobby Portis added 10 points and 16 rebounds for the Bulls.After McDermott hit three free throws to cut Portland’s lead to 86-83 with 7:15 remaining, Henderson nailed a 3-pointer for the Blazers. Lillard then flipped in a baseline floater as he got fouled by Tony Snell and hit the free throw with 6:20 left. NOTES—-Chicago product Cliff Alexander said he was excited to return home even if he was inactive. ”Everybody wanted tickets to the game. I couldn’t give everybody tickets,” he said. ”I have 13. My mom, dad, grandma, my high school coaches.” A top recruit, he played a year at Kansas before signing with Portland as an undrafted free agent last summer. Alexander has appeared in just seven games for the Trail Blazers…..There was a moment of silence before the game for Eddie Einhorn, a Bulls board member and minority owner of the White Sox. Einhorn died Tuesday following complications from a stroke. … Coach Fred Hoiberg said Rose is improving but still experiencing pain when he ”tries to explode off” his leg. … G Jimmy Butler got an encouraging report on his strained left knee, with an MRI showing the swelling is subsiding. Butler has been sidelined since Feb. 5…..The Bulls are at Miami on Tuesday.
EVANSTON—In most Big Ten games, the scoring doesn’t come easy, but that hasn’t been the case against Rutgers this season.Tre Demps scored 24 points, 17 in the first half, and Alex Olah added 14 points and 10 rebounds, leading Northwestern to a 98-59 win over Rutgers on Saturday.Northwestern came into the game loser of eight of its last nine games so hapless Rutgers was a bright spot on the schedule for the Wildcats. ”Certainly this was a feel-good day for us, something we needed,” said Northwestern coach Chris Collins. ”Was really pleased with how our guys approached the start of the game. You come off a couple losses and you’re at home and it’s a game you have to win, our energy especially defensively was great.” Northwestern was 17 of 28 from 3-point range.Demps’ game plan was to kick-start the offense early. ”Just wanted to be aggressive. Alex and I talked about for the rest of the season we want to try to set the tone. That doesn’t mean scoring points, just trying to finish this thing out strong. I wanted to be aggressive offensively, wanted to be locked in on the defensive game plan and just happy that the shots went in,” said Demps. Jonathan Laurent scored 17 for Rutgers, which lost its 31st consecutive Big Ten game and 16th straight game overall. ”We can say all year that we’ve given great effort, tonight, we just didn’t do it,” said Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan. Northwestern (18-11, 6-10 Big Ten) is on target to win 20 games for the first time since the 2010-11 season.With two games left, Rutgers (6-23, 0-16) is on the verge of becoming the first Big Ten team to go winless in conference play since Northwestern went 0-16 in 1999-2000. Northwestern also went 0-18 in the Big Ten in 1990-91.Bryant McIntosh had a career-high 13 assists and scored six points for Northwestern.Demps and the Wildcats made quick work of the Scarlet Knights. Demps’ 3 gave the Wildcats an early 19-4 lead and he extended it to 30-9 with another 3. He was 5 of 5 from 3-point range in the half.Northwestern led 48-18 at half. Scottie Lindsey‘s dunk gave the Wildcats an 84-43 lead, their largest of the game. ”We didn’t play hard, we didn’t get out to shooters, we didn’t play smart, we didn’t carry out the game plan defensively against their pick-and-rolls, they got open, they got dunks, they got 3s. We just didn’t play organize at either end of the floor,” said Jordan. ”Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. That’s what happens.” Corey Sanders served the final game of a four-game suspension, making the Scarlet Knights huge underdogs again. Sanders is the team’s leading scorer at 18.4 points per game.Jordan got some depth back on his frontline. Centers Greg Lewis and Ibrahima Diallo both played, but they provided little. The Wildcats outrebounded the Scarlet Knights 26-8 in the first half. NOTES—The Wildcats were 9 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half. … Northwestern leads the all-time series 6-1. … Aaron Falzon finished with 12 points on four 3-pointers…..McIntosh came close to the Northwestern single-game assists record Saturday. Current Northwestern assistant coach Pat Baldwin holds the record at 14, set in 1992….”I had my eyes set on something and I didn’t get it done,” McIntosh said smiling. ”(Baldwin) told me he wanted me to break it, but I don’t know. I came out pretty quick. I got to 13 and they gave me one possession, we throw an alley-oop dunk and I was out, so we’ll have to go back to the film on that one.”….Northwestern visits Penn State on Thursday.
PROVIDENCE—Ben Bentil scored 16 of his 28 points in the second half and Providence got a much-needed win, pulling away from DePaul for an 87-66 win on Saturday.Kyron Cartwright added 16 points and eight assists and Jalen Lindsey had 14 points for the Friars (20-9, 8-8 Big East) who had lost two straight and five of six in their quest for a third-consecutive 20-win season.Bentil had 12 and Cartwright 10 before intermission and the pair sandwiched two free throws around a 3-pointer by Drew Edwards in a late 7-0 spurt that helped produce a 39-33 lead at the half. The Friars then hit 5 of 8 3-pointers and shot 61 percent (14 of 23) while making 15 of 17 free throws in the second half.Providence led by double figures most of the second half.Eli Cain had four 3s and 22 points for the Blue Demons (9-19, 3-13) and Darrick Wood had 10.
ATLANTA–Jeff Teague scored 19 points, Al Horford added 18 and the Atlanta Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak with a 103-88 victory over the short-handed Bulls on Friday night.Paul Millsap had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Hawks, who ended a four-game home skid – their longest since April 2007.The Bulls, who had won three straight, played without its top three scorers because Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose and Nikola Mirotic were nursing injuries. A sore right hamstring sidelined Rose for the second straight game.Doug McDermott finished with 20 points and Paul Gasol had 16 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls.Gasol’s jumper cut the deficit to eight in the last minute of the third quarter, but the Bulls couldn’t get any closer.Horford dunked on Teague’s alley-oop pass and followed with a 3-pointer to make it 95-80 with 3:20 remaining.The Hawks are 1-3 on a five-game homestand. Miami beat Atlanta without stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and Milwaukee ended a six-game road losing streak by knocking off the Hawks in double overtime.Atlanta also was outmatched by NBA champion Golden State on Monday despite taking a brief lead early in the fourth quarter.Butler, an All-Star, has been out since Feb. 5 with a sprained left knee. Mirotic is recovering from appendicitis, and Joakim Noah, the Bulls second-leading rebounder, is sidelined with a sore shoulder.The Hawks hit just one of their first 18 attempts from beyond the arc before Tim Hardaway Jr. made it 51-42 in the last minute of the second. They finished 7 for 34 as Kent Bazemore and Kyle Korver combined to go 2 for 14.Bazemore scored 17 points. NOTES—Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg met with Rose before Wednesday’s win over Washington to discuss his injury. ”He talked about the pain that he had,” Hoiberg said. ”He talked about not being able to play his game, being cautious out there.” The Bulls don’t want Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP, pushing himself after operations on both knees. Hoiberg didn’t have an immediate timetable for Rose’s return….The Bulls have lost five straight on the road. … In the 109-105 win over Washington, the Bulls had seven players score in double figures. Only three finished in double figures Friday. Taj Gibson had 11 points. … Hoiberg said Mirotic is still ”a couple of weeks away” from returning…..Atlanta, which led the Eastern Conference with 60 regular-season wins last season, moved into sixth place, one game ahead of the Bulls. … The Hawks avoided their first five-game home losing streak since December 2006. … Atlanta has won five of six against the Bulls…Kirk Hinrich, acquired last week from the Bulls in a three-team trade, entered with the Hawks up 17 late in the fourth. He missed his only shot, airballing a 3 from in front of the Bulls’ bench. … Atlanta led by six at halftime….The Bulls Host Portland on Saturday.
ROSEMONT–-Big rallies down the stretch of the first half for DePaul helped the Blue Demons secure an 83-75 win over St. John’s Thursday night at Allstate Arena. Billy Garrett Jr.’s double-double of 19 points and 10 assists led four players in double-figures for the Blue Demons.It was an even contest to start the night as both teams traded baskets and were tied at 17-all with 9:49 left in the half. Three straight baskets helped DePaul break away from the Red Storm and the Blue Demons built their advantage to as large as 17 on two occasions, including right before halftime off an Eli Cain three-pointer to make the score 45-28.After a Tommy Hamilton IV jumper brought the DePaul lead to 21, St. John’s began to cut the deficit. The Red Storm brought the score within six with 35 seconds to go in the half, but that would be as close as the score would get. Free throws by Myke Henry at the end of the game secured the eight-point win for DePaul (9-18, 3-12 BIG EAST).St. John’s (8-21, 1-15 BIG EAST) was led by 20 points from Ron Movouika and Durand Johnson scored 15 points.DePaul hits the road with a quick turnaround at Providence. The Blue Demons and Friars and scheduled for a 3 p.m. CT start on Saturday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
NOTES—Garrett Jr. (320 assists) passed Peter Patton (313 assists) for 15th on DePaul’s all-time assists list… Garrett moved to 37th on DePaul’s all-time scoring list after scoring his 11th point… the Blue Demons have knocked down at least one three-pointer in 703 straight games… Garrett recorded his first double-double of the season and third of his career… St. John’s leads the all-time series, 20-17… the home team has won seven straight games in the series… DePaul is now 5-2 when at least four players reach double-figure scoring.
Calle Jarnkrok scored with 1:51 remaining, Pekka Rinne made 38 saves and the streaking Nashville Predators beat the Blackhawks 3-1 on Thursday night.Viktor Arvidsson also scored in the first as Nashville won for the fourth time in its last five games and extended its point streak to eight in a row. Miikka Salomaki added an empty-net goal, and Mike Fisher finished with two assists.It was a lousy ending to a big night for Hawks, who bolstered their shot for a second straight Stanley Cup title by reacquiring forward Andrew Ladd in a trade with Winnipeg announced right before the game.Brent Seabrook scored for the Blackhawks, who have lost two in a row and five of seven. Corey Crawford had 29 saves.The game was tied at 1 before Jarnkrok one-timed a slick pass from Fisher over Crawford’s right shoulder for his 12th goal. It was Jarnkrok’s first point since he scored two goals in a 5-0 win at Florida at Feb. 13, stopping a five-game drought for the third-year center.Salomaki tacked on his fourth goal 48 seconds later, prompting some of the fans to begin heading for the exits.The Predators played without All-Star defenseman Shea Weber for the second straight game. Weber, who has 15 goals and 21 assists, is day to day with a lower-body injury.But Nashville still managed its second win in five games this season against Hawks. The Predators were eliminated by the Blackhawks in the playoffs last year.Ladd could be in uniform as soon as Sunday against Washington. The Blackhawks sent prospect Marko Dano and two draft picks to Winnipeg for Ladd, forward Matt Fraser and defenseman Jay Harrison.Ladd previously played for the Hawks for two-plus seasons, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2010. He had 17 goals and 17 assists in 59 games with the Jets this season.
”He brings so much to the table,” general manager Stan Bowman said. ”Just his competitiveness. He’s a very versatile player. He’s played a big role in Winnipeg the last few years there. On their team, he does it all.”
Rinne made 13 saves in the first period, including three great stops on Jonathan Toews alone. He also denied Andrew Shaw on a breakaway in the final minute of the second.The game was scoreless before Seabrook skated into an opening in the high slot and drove a slap shot past Rinne on the stick side for his 12th of season at 5:27 of the second. The big defenseman has five goals and two assists in his last nine games.The Predators responded with Arvidsson’s seventh goal at 9:08. Fisher sent the puck off the back boards and Arvidsson was there to stuff it home from the right side.
NOTE—The Blackhawks observed a pregame moment of silence for Eddie Einhorn, a minority owner of the White Sox who died late Tuesday following complications from a stroke. … Fraser and Harrison will report to Rockford in the AHL
CHAMPAIGN—Yogi Ferrell scored 27 points and No. 18 Indiana used a huge second half to rout Illinois 74-47 on Thursday night.The Big Ten leaders trailed 28-27 at halftime, but Ferrell scored 19 second-half points and Indiana (23-6, 12-3) pulled away from the Illini (12-16, 4-11). Ferrell’s 3-pointer with 7:58 left put the Hoosiers up 56-37.Nick Zeisloft scored 14 for Indiana, and Thomas Bryant had 14 points and eight rebounds.Jalen Coleman-Lands led Illinois with 21 points.The Hoosiers held Illinois’ top two scorers, Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn, to a combined 13 points. Hill entered averaging 18.6 per game, and Nunn 16.4.The Hoosiers blew out Illinois with a barrage of second-half 3-pointers, going 10 for 17 from behind the arc over the final 20 minutes. They hit three in the first half.Ferrell’s 19 second-half points equaled the output of the entire Illini team. He finished 11 of 18 from the field, including 5 for 10 from 3-point range.One particular sequence illustrated what Ferrell means to the Hoosiers at both ends of the court. With just under 10 minutes left and the Illini trying to claw their way back into it, Nunn held the ball just outside the 3-point line as Illinois started to set up its offense.But before Nunn could even glance at a teammate, Ferrell scooted by him, swiped the ball from a stunned Nunn and broke to the other end of the court. Ferrell’s easy layup put the Hoosiers up 50-37.Just 2 minutes later, Ferrell sank a 3 that put the Hoosiers up 56-37 and silenced the arena – except for his own bench, which was whooping it up.Indiana took Illinois’ best weapon, Hill, all but out of the game. By halftime he’d taken a total of two shots, missing both.When he tried to force himself into it in the second half, the Hoosiers shut him down.With the Illini down by six with just under 17 minutes left, Hill drove toward the basket but found two Hoosiers between himself and the rim when he got there. The junior was forced to kick the ball out to a teammate, who missed his shot, and Illinois came away with nothing. Starting guard Robert Johnson missed the game with a sprained ankle. … The Hoosiers close the regular season with a pair of games against ranked teams, at No. 8 Iowa and at home against No. 10 Maryland. The only Illinois win over a ranked opponent this season was Jan. 10 against then-No. 20 Purdue. Since then the Illini have gone 3-8. Illinois is 1-5 against Top 25 teams this season. … Coleman-Lands was the only Illinois player who scored in double figures.Illinois closes out its home schedule Sunday against Minnesota.