EVANSTON - Tracy Abrams had 13 and Rayvonte Rice had eight for No. 23 Illinois, but Tre Demps made three late 3-pointers to lead Northwestern to a 49-43 win on Sunday night.
Drew Crawford added 14 points and JerShon Cobb had 11 for Northwestern (8-9, 1/3 Big Ten), which gave coach Chris Collins his first conference victory.
After leading by as many as eight in the second half, Northwestern allowed Illinois to tie the game at 27 on Kendrick Nunn's layup with 11:31 left. Demps, though, hit three 3-pointers in three minutes, the last giving Northwestern a 43-36 lead with 3:28 to go. Cobb's layup with 1:53 left gave the Wildcats a 45-36 advantage.
Illinois thought it cut the lead to 45-42 with 55.9 left, but Joseph Bertrand was called for charging, wiping out his basket. The Illini got to within 45-43 when Rayvonte Rice hit a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left, but Crawford hit two free throws with 14.3 seconds left and Northwestern finished the upset.