Illinois drops Big Ten opener at Northwestern

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Sophomore guard Te'Jon Lucas posted 14 points and 5 rebounds for lllinois in a 72-68 loss to Northwestern in overtime on Friday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, lll. Sophomore guard Te'Jon Lucas posted 14 points and 5 rebounds for lllinois in a 72-68 loss to Northwestern in overtime on Friday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, lll.

ROSEMONT -- Illinois' Big Ten opener checked all of the boxes you'd expect in an earlier-than-expected conference opener against an in-state rival. It was close. There were turnovers (36 overall), Neither team shot above 42 percent. And in the end the (much) younger team fell one possession short.

Illinois (6-2, 0-1) picked up its second bitter road pill to swallow in a 72-68 overtime loss that came on the heels of a disappointing loss at Wake Forest earlier in the week. For Northwestern (5-3, 1-0), the game was a much-needed confidence booster for a squad that fell out of the Top 25 following a trio of head-scratching losses.

Forward Leron Black led the Illini with 15 points and 7 rebounds, but also turned the ball over 5 times. Guards Te'Jon Lucas and Mark Alstork each had 14 points, while wing Aaron Jordan had 10 points off the bench.

Illinois held a 36-32 halftime lead over Northwestern and also had an early 64-63 lead in overtime, but Te'Jon Lucas' shot was blocked in the Illini's final chance to win or tie the game and Northwestern prevailed 72-68.

Up next Maryland (6-3) travels to Champaign for a 7 p.m. game on Sunday night.

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