Player of the game | Illinois freshman forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili
Can’t argue anyone was better than the Illini freshman on Wednesday night in Chicago. At least in the Illinois-Northwestern game. Bezhanishvili scored an efficient 26 points on 12 of 15 shooting to go with four rebounds, two steals and one block.
A more aggressive Trent Frazier (21 points) is exactly what the Illini needed after the sophomore lefty didn’t get much going offensively in their regular-season finale. It almost made up for another quiet night in Chicago by Ayo Dosunmu.
The only knock on Bezhanishvili was his rebounding numbers. Three guards — Andres Feliz, Aaron Jordan and Da'Monte Williams — had more. The Wildcats were simply solid up front with Dererk Pardon and Miller Kopp.
What bench? That applies equally to both teams. Down a starter with Vic Law out, the Wildcats didn’t get much out of anyone after their first five. The Illini were just as reliant on their starters, but Andres Feliz did come through in overtime after a rough finish to regulation.
It wasn’t pretty, but few Illinois games have been this season. The bottom line is the Illini get to stick around Chicago for at least one more day — one more Big Ten tournament game — after Bezhanishvili and Frazier teamed up to carry them there.