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November 20, 2013

Rapid reaction: NU 93 UIC 58

CHICAGO-UIC is called the Flames, but it was Northwestern that was red-hot on Wednesday night at the UIC Pavilion.

The Wildcats shot 61 percent from the floor and 55 percent from beyond the arc on their way to an epic 93-58 rout of overmatched UIC.

Here are WildcatReport's rapid reactions to one of the most dominating Northwestern performances in recent memory.

Did you see that? With Northwestern already up 31, UIC was trying to push the ball and get some points back. Sanjay Lumpkin showed great anticipation to intercept a pass at mid-court. He then hit a streaking Tre Demps, who glided to the basket and double-clutched a layup while taking a hit. The bucket put Northwestern up 75-42 with eight minutes left in the game, and it elicited a fiery fist-pump from head coach Chris Collins.

Offensive player of the game: Dave Sobolewski. Yesterday, his former Lisle (Ill.) Benet Academy teammate, Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky, set a Badger single-game scoring record with 43 points, and it looked like Sobolewski was trying to match him. He was draining threes all over the floor and at one point was outscoring UIC all by himself, 13-12. He finished with a career-high 25 points on 9-for-14 shooting. Not quite as good as Kaminsky, but still a heck of a performance.

Defensive player of the game: Lumpkin. For much of the game, Northwestern's most versatile defender was given the responsibility of guarding the Flames' most versatile offensive player, stretch-4 Hayden Humes. Lumpkin showed the ability to stay in front of Humes on the perimeter, as well as bodying him up in the post. Lumpkin finished with 10 rebounds and a steal, while Humes was held scoreless.

Super sub: Nikola Cerina. The big man continued to have trouble finishing around the rim, but he was very solid otherwise. Center Alex Olah was saddled with foul trouble despite playing his best basketball of the year, and Cerina stepped in admirably. He played good, hard defense down low, and he freed up his teammates with solid screens on the other end. He finished with just two points and three rebounds, but his impact was more important than the stats may imply. At one point, he outran two Flames halfway across the floor to corral a loose ball.

Turning point: The opening tip. This game was only tied twice, at 0-0 and 2-2. It took just over four minutes for the Wildcats to build a double-digit lead, mainly because they were running the Flames ragged. Collins stressed after the loss to Illinois State that he wanted his team to run more, and in the early minutes they got up and down the floor more than they had in any other game this season. It's fair to point out that this UIC team is a far cry from Big Ten competition, but building a 25-point halftime lead is impressive against any college team.

Atmosphere: UIC Pavilion holds less than 7,000 people, and most of the upper deck was empty, but a good amount of fans packed the lower sections. They made it loud. Despite the play of their team, the student section was raucous and the rest of their fans helped out as well. It doesn't hurt to blare music at every single stoppage in play either.

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