Game 13 preview | Northwestern at No. 9 Illinois; 8 p.m., Tuesday

Jan. 2—Lineups

No. 9 Illinois (10-2, 1-0 Big ten)


P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G/F Ty Rodgers So. 6-6 5.9 Saginaw, Mich.

G Luke Goode Jr. 6-7 7.0 Fort Wayne, Ind.

G/F Marcus Domask Gr. 6-6 11.6 Waupun, Wis.

F Quincy Guerrier Gr. 6-8 10.8 Montreal

F Coleman Hawkins Sr. 6-10 10.0 Sacramento, Calif.

FYI: Rodgers was just the 11th player this season nationally to put up at least 10 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in a game when he did so in Illinois' 104-71 home win against Fairleigh Dickinson last Friday night. That group includes Western Carolina's Vonterius Woolbright, who has done it four times in 13 games and is averaging 21.2 points, 12.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Justin Harmon Gr. 6-4 5.3 Chicago

F/C Dain Dainja R-Jr. 6-9 8.0 Brooklyn Park, Minn.

G Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn Fr. 6-1 3.9 Lafayette, Ind.

Northwestern (10-2, 1-0 Big ten)


P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Boo Buie Gr. 6-2 17.3 Albany, N.Y.

G Ty Berry Sr. 6-3 10.8 Newton, Kan.

G Ryan Langborg Gr. 6-4 13.0 San Diego

G Brooks Barnhizer Jr. 6-6 13.3 Lafayette, Ind.

C Matthew Nicholson Sr. 7-0 4.7 Clarkston, Mich.

FYI: Langborg is having a career year in his first season with the Wildcats. The Princeton transfer is averaging career highs in scoring and assists at 13 points and 2.8 assists per game, while shooting a career-best 42 percent from three-point range on nearly six assists per game.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

F Nick Martinelli So. 6-7 7.2 Glenview

F Blake Preston Gr. 6-9 2.7 Charlotte, N.C.

F Luke Hunger So. 6-10 3.2 Montreal


Site: State Farm Center (15,544); Champaign.

Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Deon Thomas (analysis) will have the call on the Illini Sports Network on WDWS 1400-AM, WDWS 93.9-FM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WPXN 104.9-FM, WDAN-1490-AM and WDNL 102.1-FM.

TV: Connor Onion (play-by-play) and former Purdue standout Robbie Hummel (analysis) will have the call on BTN.

Series: Illinois leads 143-43.

Last meeting: Illinois won 66-62 on Feb. 23, 2023, in Champaign.

FYI: Illinois has won its last seven home games against Northwestern. The last home loss for the Illini against the Wildcats came in the 2012-13 season. Brandon Paul had a game-high 21 points for Illinois, but Tracy Abrams was the only other Illini in double figures with 10 points. Northwestern had five players in double figures in its 68-54 victory.

Beat writer Scott Richey's storylines

Next step in the process for Moretti

Nico Moretti was on the court working through a shooting drill ahead of Sunday's practice at Ubben Basketball Complex. The 6-foot-1 guard wasn't moving all that much — just station to station — but the fact he was on the court going through the drill was a step in the right direction toward his return to play. Moretti hasn't played since suffering a foot injury in Illinois' Nov. 19 win against Southern. He has another appointment this week for scans Illini coach Brad Underwood said will give a better idea on when the redshirt freshman might return. "This is one of the first days he's actually been on the court in a basketball shoe shooting a basketball," Underwood said Sunday. "We're heading in the right direction, but I don't want to jinx anything because I don't have a timeline."

Growth behind the scenes from Harris

A typical week for Sencire Harris is a full week. Extra sessions with strength and conditioning coach Adam Fletcher in the weight room and the nutrition station. Individual workouts with assistant coach Chester Frazier to work on and change his game. The sophomore guard opted to redshirt this season — a decision that remains firm despite the absence of Terrence Shannon Jr. — and he's getting the most out of it. "We're all in on that process of getting him better," Underwood said. "I've loved Sencire Harris in this process. His dedication with Fletch. He heads our scout team every day. ... To this point, he's been off the chart in terms of taking advantage of this redshirt opportunity."

Northwestern guard a scary proposition

Illinois has seen Boo Buie at his worst (two points in a January 2021 loss to the Illini) and at his best (35 points last February in another loss). The Northwestern guard made 6 of 11 three-pointers in the latter, and while he hasn't topped that career-best performance he's had six games of 20-plus points this season. "It seemed like every time he touched it he would score," Underwood said of Illinois' last experience with Buie. "You can't leave him alone. He's got maybe the best float game in college basketball in terms of floaters from 15 feet. You've got to make it hard. You can't give a lot of help. He's got elite shooters in Ty Berry (and Princeton transfer Ryan Langborg), who might be the best shooter in college basketball. If he's got clean look, he does not miss."

The News-Gazette's pick

No. 9 Illinois 74, Northwestern 69

How the Illini beat Fairleigh Dickinson on Friday has to be the template for playing without Terrence Shannon Jr. No single player can do what Shannon did for Illinois. It has to be a group effort. It might not be six players in double figures — three with double-doubles — and more than 100 points every night in the Big Ten, but the basic framework is that kind of balance. How successful the Illini are against Northwestern will be a truer test of this new dynamic than the FDU game (N-G prediction record — 11-1).