CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 17: Meyers Leonard #12 of the Illinois Fighting Illini goes up for a shot over Justin Hawkins #31 (L) and Anthony Marshall #3 of the UNLV Rebels at United Center on December 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. UNLV defeated Illinois 64-48. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Illinois Vs. Northwestern: Fighting Illini Escape With Last Second Victory In Evanston

Illinois earned a road win against Northwestern on Wednesday.

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Illinois Vs. Northwestern Final Score: Meyers Leonard's Block Seals Win For Illini

Illinois and Northwestern have spent the past few seasons building a budding local college basketball rivalry, and Wednesday's game in Evanston felt tangibly bigger than other early-season conference games. The teams' traded shots back-and-forth all night, but it was the Illini who escaped with a 57-56 victory.

Northwestern had the final shot after freshman forward Mike Shaw missed his final free throw, but Drew Crawford's last second attempt was swatted by Illinois center Meyers Leonard to secure the victory. The Illini trailed the Wildcats by five at halftime, but used stellar defense and balanced scoring to surge ahead and hold on for the win in the second half.

Three Illini scoreres reached double-figures, led by Leonard. The sophomore center finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. Guards Joseph Bertrand (10 points, eight rebounds) and Brandon Paul (10 points, four rebounds, four assists) also were key in the victory. True freshman Nnanna Egwu came off the bench to score nine points on 3-of-3 shooting.

Northwestern was led by star forward John Shurna, who finished with 20 points and seven rebounds.

For more coverage of the Illini, be sure to explore Hail to the Orange, and for more on the Wildcats, check out Sippin' On Purple. Stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago for live, in-game scores and updates. For more on Tuesday's match-up, check out this preview.

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Illinois Vs. Northwestern Score Update: Wildcats Lead 36-31 At Halftime

The Northwestern Wildcats lead 36-31 at halftime over the Illinois Fighting Illini in a competitive game between the state's two Big Ten basketball teams. Northwestern had extended its lead to 10 points with less than two minutes to go in the game, but Illinois came back to finish the half with five unanswered points to keep the game close going into halftime.

John Shurna has been impressive in front of the home crowd in Evanston, Ill., scoring 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting in the first half. Drew Crawford has been limited to just two points in the game, but the Wildcats are shooting 47 percent from the field so far and have been able to survive without big numbers from their No. 2 scorer.

The Fighting Illini didn't have a great first half, but Nnanna Egwu gave them a nice boost off the bench with 9 points while going a perfect 3-for-3 from the field and 3-for-3 from the free throw line. Brandon Paul scored 7 points, but center Meyers Leonard was held to just two points, and those were scored on a dunk in the half's final minute. Illinois starters are just 6-for-18 from the field combined, so that team is going to need more from its key players.

For more coverage of the Illini, be sure to explore Hail to the Orange, and for more on the Wildcats, check out Sippin' On Purple. Stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago for live, in-game scores and updates. For more on Tuesday's match-up, check out this preview.

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Illinois Vs. Northwestern: Wildcats, Fighting Illini Meet In Big Ten Battle

The Illinois Fighting Illini and Northwestern Wildcats face each other Wednesday night in a battle of Big Ten rivals as both teams continue their tough conference schedules.

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