CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Demetri McCamey scored 14 points, Mike Tisdale added 13 and Illinois routed Northwestern 88-63 on Thursday night to improve to 3-0 in Big Ten play.
The Illini hit 18 of their 22 first-half shots — 81.8 percent — and finished at 70.5 percent.
Mike Davis had 12 points, Meyers Leonard and Jereme Richmond added 11 each and D.J. Richardson finished with 10. The Illini (13-3) led by 25 at the half, 49-24, and pushed their edge past 30 in the final 20 minutes.
Illinois toyed with Northwestern's defense for much of the first half, rattling off a run of 3-pointers for a 9-2 lead, and added three straight dunks, the last of which came from the 7-foot-1 Tisdale and put Illinois up 42-19 with 2:32 left in the half.
Illinois led 47-24 at the half and scored its 65th point — the Wildcats (9-4, 0-3) had been giving up 65.8 a game — less than 7 minutes into the second half.
"Good D fells, good D," Wildcat coach Bill Carmody yelled hopefully to his team after forcing a late first-half turnover that didn't yield a point but at least kept Illinois away from the basket for a little longer.
If there was any doubt the Illini would defend their 23-point halftime lead, Davis erased it. The forward scored the first five points of the half — three on free throws and two on a short jumper — for a 52-24 lead.
Davis keyed a 14-7 run that stretched the lead to 32 at 63-31 with 14:34 to play.
Northwestern's problems were almost too many to count.
Illinois outrebounded the Wildcats 40-17, and, at one point, had an 11-1 edge — an advantage that, with just under 8 minutes to play in the first half had the Illini up 33-17.
John Shurna, the Wildcats' leading scorer at 21.3 a game and the country's most accurate 3-point shooter, didn't take a shot in the first 6½ minutes and didn't make one until almost 9 minutes had passed. Struggling with an ankle sprain, he spent much of the second half on the bench and finished with seven points.
The Wildcats shot just 34.3 percent overall.
Illinois came into the game off an impressive 69-61 home win over Wisconsin on Sunday, after which Weber said he'd discovered something about his team — the Illini, he said, can't handle success and need to be constantly reminded of how good they could be.
With 1:15 left in the first half and the Illini up 44-21, he took advantage of the quiet arena as Davis prepared to shoot a free throw at the other end of the court to remind them of their own weaknesses.
"Come on," he shouted. "Don't lose your energy! Don't lose your emotion!"
Apparently they listened.
Northwestern struggled to get the deficit below 20 over the final 20 minutes. JerShon Cobb's 3 with 2:38 to play trimmed Illinois' lead to 19 at 78-59.
Cobb led Northwestern (9-4, 0-3) with 18 points, and Michael Thompson had 15.