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No. 23 Illini falls to rival Wildcats, 49-43

Tracy Abrams rising up for the shot.
(Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

The Illinois Fighting Illini (13-4, 2-2 Big Ten) couldn't avoid the upset effort by rival Northwestern Wildcats (8-9, 1-3 Big Ten) losing 49-43 in Evanston Sunday evening. This was their second straight loss after having a four game winning streak.

Guard Tracy Abrams scored 13 points in the effort but Rayvonte Rice was held to only eight points on the night. The Illini offense struggled mightily as it shot on 28 percent from the floor. According to, head coach John Groce had this to say about his team's offense.

"I felt like we did not make enough plays on offense. I didn't feel like we were nearly aggressive enough. I thought we were way too tentative offensively," Groce said. "We're going to have to figure that out pretty quickly. I feel like it's been that way now for a couple games."

Groce was not wrong in saying this because in their two straight Big Ten losses to Wisconsin and Northwestern they shot 31 percent and 28 percent which any team can lose if shooting like that.

Northwestern, however; struggled as well but managed to do enough to squeak out the win. Drew Crawford led the team with 13 points. Tre Demps and JerShon Cobb each had 11 points. The Wildcats only shot 37 percent from the floor, however; the timing of those scores really propelled the team to victory.

The Fighting Illini plays Purdue this Wednesday at home where they are undefeated. Coming home may be just the spark that the Illini needs to end their shooting woes.

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