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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern sweeps Chicago play, beats UIC 92-54

Chicago’s Team is now 4-0 in local play.

NUMensBball on Twitter

For the first time since the 2016-17 season, Northwestern is 9-2.

The ‘Cats made it look easy in Welsh-Ryan Arena Tuesday night, as the Wildcats routed the UIC Flames 92-54 to head into the Christmas dead period on a four-game winning streak. It was the eighth game in which the Wildcats held its opponents to under 60 points; the most Northwestern has had in a season since 2018-19.

Like Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats controlled the contest for 38 of 40 minutes, improving to 4-0 against Chicago-area opponents.

Chase Audige led the Wildcats with 19 points and four rebounds and was joined by another star-studded performance from Boo Buie, with 16 points. But the game's story came in the form of sophomore Brooks Barnhizer, who contributed 18 points and eight rebounds, including 6-of-8 from the field, showcasing the potential he could produce in the seasons to come.

The Wildcats dominated defense and it paid off mainly in the turnover battle. Northwestern forced 21 takeaways while only losing nine itself. The ‘Cats also held the Flames to just a 38.6% shooting clip and nearly doubled their opponents in rebounds, 44-23.

UIC’s leading scorer, Toby Okani, contributed six points early as the Flames failed to match the Wildcats basket-for-basket. Despite the Flames’ efforts to keep the game close, the Wildcats created an 11-2 scoring run to increase their lead to 28-16 at the 7:29 mark of the half. The run continued for nearly five minutes as the Wildcats extended the UIC deficit to as much as 21. UIC gave up 15 NU points off turnovers, which entirely changed the game's momentum. These included heroics from Boo Buie and Matt Nicholson, as Nicholson found his footing with a flawless first half, finishing with six points and seven for the entire game.

The Wildcats entered the break with their largest halftime lead of the season, doubling up the Flames with a 42-21 cushion. The Flames couldn’t find the bottom of the net in the final three minutes of the frame, as the ‘Cats finished on a 25-7 run.

The second half told a similar story: the Wildcats continued to control the paint and saw Ty Berry deliver a highlight-reel tip-in dunk to get the Wildcats to the 50-point mark. Audige continued to impress, fresh off his 26-point outing against DePaul, as he and Buie combined for 35 of the ‘Cats’ 92 points. Buie did not commit a single turnover throughout the game, as he shot over 55% from field goal range in another masterful performance from the NU fan favorite.

UIC’s ball control woes continued, as the Wildcats’ defensive pressure forced the Flames into uneven matchups that they failed to break through. Minus a few three-pointers, including a heater from Tre Anderson, the Flames could not capitalize on any comeback bid, as they could not get within a 15-point deficit for the rest of the game. The Wildcats forced 21 total turnovers while scoring 31 of their 92 points off of defensive efficiency and their tenacious effort off the ball.

Northwestern will have over a week off before hosting Brown on Dec. 29 and then jumping back into Big Ten play against Ohio State on New Year’s Day.