News Local/State

Feliz Drives Illini To 81-76 Win Over Northwestern

Illinois' Andres Feliz spies an opening between Northwestern defenders, Sunday in Champaign.

Illinois' Andres Feliz spies an opening between Northwestern defenders, Sunday in Champaign. Rob McColley/for Illinois Public Media

The Illini men's basketball team beat Northwestern 81-76 Sunday night in Champaign.

Junior guard Andres Feliz led Illinois with a career-high 26 points by taking the ball to the basket.

Illini head coach Brad Underwood liked the old-school method.

"We talked about after the Purdue game, in which we shot 30 threes, not doing that anymore," Underwood said. "We've got to be a team that tries to get the ball into the paint. Dre (Feliz) put eleven fouls himself on their team, and that's a huge number. I'd be challenged to see many guards that have done that this year."

Feliz connected on 5-of-9 shots, all from close range, and converted 16-17 free throws.

The Dominican junior, who stands about six feet tall, offered a common-sense philosophy on scoring: Avoid the big people.

"I basically look at where the bigs are at, Feliz said. If he's behind me, and I see open space, I just take it."

Aaron Jordan led Illinois with 10 rebounds. Ayo Dosunmu and Giorgi Bezhanishvili each scored a dozen points for Illinois. Trent Frazier added 11, including 6-of-6 free-throws. Bezhanishvili converted 8-of-8. Overall, the team hit 33-of-38 from the line. The Illini assisted on 16-of-21 made field goals.

Dererk Pardon led the Wildcats with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Miller Kopp and Ryan Taylor each scored 13 points for Northwestern.

The Wildcats drop to 12-17 overall, and last place, 3-15 in the Big Ten. Illinois improves to 7-11 in conference, and 11-18 overall.

Entering the final week of the regular season, the Illini and Rutgers are tied for 9th place in the Big Ten, ahead of both Indiana and Penn State. The Hoosiers and Nittany Lions are the remaining opponents on the Illini schedule. Winning both games would give the Illini a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament, which begins next Wednesday in Chicago.