EVANSTON — The ending couldn't have gone much worse. With less than a minute left, and a one-point lead, Illinois had a shot-clock violation.
Then Northwestern's A.J. Turner hit what amounted to the game-winning 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 68-66 win over Illinois.
The Illini drop to 4-11, 0-4 in the Big Ten Conference. Trent Frazier's shot at the buzzer hit the back of the rim.
Illinois holding on late
A putback from Giorgi Bezhanishvili gave Illinois a 66-65 lead with :55.3 seconds left against Northwestern.
Ayo ties it
Ayo Dosunmu tied the back-and-forth game with a pair of free throws with 5:05 left.
After badly struggling for the last three games, Illinois junior Kipper Nichols has come to life with four points and a steal in the second half.
Free throws, free throws, free throws
Northwestern scored 10 straight points from the free-throw line before Vic Law got a layup to go, and was fouled. He'll try for the old-fashioned three-point play after the timeout.
The Wildcats lead 54-51 with 7:28 left to play.
Northwestern run closes the gap
The Wildcats went on a 9-2 run to turn a seven-point deficit into a tie game. Northwestern hit a 3-pointer on three straight possessions to tie the game at 42-all after Anthony Gaines buried a triple.
Illinois got a free throw from Ayo Dosunmu to take a 43-42 lead, which stands with 11:42 left in the game and Gaines at the free-throw line with two shots after the timeout.
Still no 3-pointers, but an Illinois lead
The Illini are 0-of-8 on 3-pointers so far, but hold a 36-29 lead against Northwestern with 15:47 left.
Ayo Dosunmu is leading the Illini on both ends of the floor. He has nine points and five rebounds. Adonis De La Rosa has eight points.
Big run gives Illini a lead
Illinois trailed by eight points before going on a 15-1 run to close the first half behind the strong play of big man Adonis De La Rosa.
He scored eight of the 15 points during that span and Illinois leads 31-25 at halftime.
Both teams are shooting 38 percent from the field. Ayo Dosunmu has seven points for the Illini.
Dererk Pardon leads Northwestern with six points.
Adonis De La Rosa dominating
After a slow start to the year as he worked back from a torn ACL, Illinois graduate transfer Adonis De La Rosa has been stringing together good moments.
He has eight points and three rebounds in the first half, a much-needed lift with Giorgi Bezhanishvili in foul trouble.
Free throws get Illini within two possessions
Sophomore Da'Monte Williams has been aggressive on offense and hit a pair of free throws, followed by two from Adonis De La Rosa and Illinois is within four, 24-20, with 3:49 left in the first half.
For as inconsistent as the Illini have been this half, the Wildcats haven't extended the lead to double digits at any point.
Dunks and layups hurting Illinois
Illinois got within four, 20-16, before Northwestern scored four straight to lead 24-16 with 5:02 left in the first half.
Dererk Pardon with a big dunk to extend the lead to eight. The Wildcats are dominating in the paint.
Offense still struggling midway through first half
Illinois hasn't been able to ditch the slow offensive start. The Illini trail Northwestern 17-12 with 7:52 left before halftime. Illinois is shooting 31 percent with six turnovers, and the defense has allowed easy Northwestern shots at the rim.
The Wildcats have three dunks and two layups and are shooting 47 percent.
Slow offensive start
Illinois is shooting 33 percent with three turnovers and Northwestern leads 11-10 with 11:50 left in the first half. The Illini are one of their last seven from the field. Though the Wildcats are shooting 50 percent from the field, they have four turnovers.
Early signing for Samba Kane, who has a putback for the Illini, but was also blocked by Ryan Taylor.
Operation Giorgi stalled
Illinois head coach Brad Underwood has made it a point to share his desire to get freshman big man Giorgi Bezhanishvili the ball. Bezhanishvili took the first three Illinois shots against Northwestern, clearly a focal point of the offense. However, he picked up his second foul with 16:45 left in the half and is off to the bench.
Illinois leads Northwestern 6-2 with 15:57 left in the first half.