ROSEMONT—Scottie Lindsey took a seat on the bench after going scoreless in Northwestern’s previous game.The Wildcats’ second-leading scorer still managed to play 39 minutes and come through in the clutch.Lindsey scored five of his game-high 22 points in overtime and Northwestern trailed for much of the evening before pulling out a 72-68 victory over Illinois on Friday in the Big Ten opener for both teams.The 6-foot-5 senior came in averaging 15.3 points but did not start after going 0 for 8 from the floor in Northwestern’s 52-51 loss to Georgia Tech on Tuesday night
”I knew the team needed me to bounce back from last game,” Lindsey said. ”I knew I played a really bad game. That was just motivation to come out and play. The guys that ended last game really showed great character and fight. That was rewarding them. I had to accept it and it worked out”
Vic Law added 16 points before fouling out in overtime and Bryant McIntosh had 14 points and six assists for Northwestern (5-3).Leron Black led Illinois (6-2) with 15 points, whle Te’Jon Lucas and Mark Alstork had 14 points apiece.
”We might have set a Guinness Book of World Records for the most travel calls tonight,” said Illinois coach Brad Underwood. ”And we’re traveling. We can’t have 11 of our turnovers from bigs.Those are self-inflicted. Those are mistakes you can’t make. Those are not Northwestern beating us … those are our mistakes that allowed them to have success.”
Illinois led twice in overtime before a pair of Lindsey free throws with 59 seconds left gave Northwestern the lead for good.Dererk Pardon blocked two shots in the final minute to preserve the victory.
”I was really proud of Scottie,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. ”Everyone knows he had a tough night the other night in Atlanta.”
The top four players from the first Northwestern team to reach the NCAA Tournament are back, but the Wildcats continued to look like a shell of last year’s team despite the victory. Northwestern committed turnovers on its final three possessions of regulation.The Illini went 19 for 37 on 2-point field goals and shot 81 percent from the foul line, but committed 19 turnovers and went just 3 for 18 from 3-point territory in producing their lowest scoring output of the season. Their previous low came in an 80-73 loss to Wake Forest on Tuesday night.It was the earliest Big Ten game in Illinois’ century-long history in the league.The Big Ten season was moved up because the league will hold its conference tournament a week early in order to stage it at Madison Square Garden in New York.
”I’m a fan of it right now because we’re 1-0,” Collins said. ”Overall, it is difficult. I just feel like you get into such a rhythm of using your nonconference to prepare for conference play. It is what it is.’
Orange-clad Illini fans outnumbered Wildcats fans in Northwestern’s temporary home 13 miles southwest of Welsh-Ryan Arena, which is undergoing major renovations and will not be used this season.Illinois will try to even its Big Ten record against Maryland on Sunday night. The Terrapins also dropped their Big Ten opener to Purdue.Northwestern will travel to play Purdue on Sunday afternoon in a battle of 1-0 Big Ten teams.