Illinois has a chance to sweep Northwestern with win Tuesday

Illinois+head+coach+John+Groce+watches+his+team+from+the+sideline+during+the+game+against+Minnesota+at+State+Farm+Center+on+Saturday%2C+February+4.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois head coach John Groce watches his team from the sideline during the game against Minnesota at State Farm Center on Saturday, February 4.

By Lucas Wright , Staff writer

A win on Tuesday would be the first set of back-to-back conference wins for the Illinois basketball program in nearly two years.

Illinois is set for a rematch at home with Northwestern, and Illinois has already taken them down on the road earlier in the season.

However, the Wildcats have their star player back from illness: Scottie Lindsey.

Although an ineffective 2-for-8 from the floor, including 1-for-6 from deep, starting wing Scottie Lindsey’s six points in his first game back proved crucial in Northwestern’s 69-65 win over Rutgers on Saturday.

“Lindsey is back now, which adds another shooter-scorer to their lineup,” head coach John Groce said. “That makes them even more dangerous, and we expect a very hard-fought game.”

Lindsey figures to be sharper against the Illini on Tuesday, after easing back into his role in Saturday’s win over Rutgers. Lindsey leads the team at 15 points per game and is second on the team in three-pointers made on the year.

A major key for Illinois in its past victory over Northwestern was the all-around play from freshman guard Te’Jon Lucas, who set the tone on the offensive end. Lucas tallied 11 points, six assists and five rebounds in what was his most effective outing to date.

The Illini will most likely need to continue leaning on Malcolm Hill as the crutch for the struggling offense.

Hill tallied 21 points in his past outing and is showing that he may have a little extra left in the tank for a final push in the last few games of his college career. With four games left in the Big Ten schedule and at least one Big Ten Tournament game guaranteed, Hill is 112 points back of Dee Brown for 3rd in all-time scoring at Illinois.

Regardless of Illinois’ record and its chance of advancing to a postseason tournament, Groce said he and his team have not discussed and are not going to focus on those possibilities.

“We start out the year talking about what we want to do long term, but at that point we stash it away and get locked in,” Groce said. “We focus on one game at a time, and that is just what we are doing right now.”

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