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Men’s Basketball: Wildcats smother Flames in season’s best performance

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Men’s Basketball: Wildcats smother Flames in season’s best performance

Junior Dave Sobolewski fired on all cylinders against Illinois-Chicago on Wednesday night. The guard exploded with a career-high 25 points, including four shots from behind the arc.

Junior Dave Sobolewski fired on all cylinders against Illinois-Chicago on Wednesday night. The guard exploded with a career-high 25 points, including four shots from behind the arc.

Tyler Pager/The Daily Northwestern

Junior Dave Sobolewski fired on all cylinders against Illinois-Chicago on Wednesday night. The guard exploded with a career-high 25 points, including four shots from behind the arc.

Tyler Pager/The Daily Northwestern

Tyler Pager/The Daily Northwestern

Junior Dave Sobolewski fired on all cylinders against Illinois-Chicago on Wednesday night. The guard exploded with a career-high 25 points, including four shots from behind the arc.

Alex Putterman, Assistant Sports Editor

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What a difference a year makes.

In December 2012, Illinois-Chicago beat Northwestern 50-44 in Evanston. This year, the Wildcats sealed victory over the Flames before halftime.

NU (2-2) took a 12-2 lead and never looked back, leading by as many as 35 in a dominant 93-58 win over UIC (1-3) on Wednesday.

“Obviously we’re very thrilled with our performance tonight,” coach Chris Collins said.

The Cats entered halftime up 47-22, after their best 20 minutes of the season. 

Junior Dave Sobolewski was the star of the half. The point guard scored 13 of NU’s first 27 points and 17 total before the break, shooting 4-6 from behind the arc and outscoring UIC alone for much of the period.

“I got some good looks to start the game, and that just started it,” Sobolewski said. “I didn’t do anything special.”

The Cats shot 57.1 percent in the first half, compared to the Flames’ 22.6 percent, and out-rebounded UIC 30-13. The second half was slightly closer in stats and score, but the lead never fell below 20 as NU cruised to victory.

Sobolewski took his act inside the arc after halftime, converting several contested layups to set a career-high 25 points.

Senior forward Drew Crawford contributed 18 points and sophomore guard Tre Demps added 13.

Redshirt freshman Sanjay Lumpkin submitted his best performance of the season, fighting for boards and seizing offensive opportunities. The forward finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, his first career double-double.

In total, NU shot 60.8 percent from the field and 55 percent from 3-point range after struggling Sunday against Illinois State.

“The reaction to Sunday was not being down or being sad, it was anger,” Collins said. “These guys, their attitudes are great.”

On the other side of the ball, UIC shot only 29 percent for the game, and Collins said he was particularly impressed with the defense.

Collins started the same five he has so far this season, despite suggesting earlier in the week he would consider changing things up. The small lineup that worked well against Illinois State on Sunday was used sparingly Wednesday, as a typical rotation went just fine for NU.

The easy victory was some degree of vengeance for the embarrassing result of a year ago. Sobolewski said the Cat’s veterans were “definitely thinking about” last year’s loss at UIC before Wednesday’s game.

“It was in the back of our minds for sure,” he said. “For them to come into our gym and beat us … I think that was part of the drive we had to start the game.”

The victory was Collins’ first road win as the Cats’ coach and an historic one for the program. The 35-point margin of victory was NU’s largest in a true road game since Jan. 14, 1944, when the Cats beat University of Chicago 77-20.

NU next plays Friday, when IUPUI visits Welsh-Ryan Arena, looking to start a streak. Unfortunately, none of the excess points from Wednesday’s win carry over.

“It was one good game, and nothing more than that,” Sobolewski said. “So it’s important to look forward.”

Email: asputt@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @AlexPutt02

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About the Writer
Alex Putterman, Web Editor

Alex is a Medill senior studying journalism. He has written for The Daily’s sports desk since his first quarter at NU. His past positions at The Daily...