FORT WAYNE – Reggie Hearn said he’s getting pretty close to 100 percent.
He sure looked at full strength Thursday against Illinois.
The Northwestern senior guard, a Snider graduate, scored 20 points in the Wildcats’ 68-54 upset road victory over the No. 23 Illini.
Hearn had been slowed in recent weeks by an ankle injury.
The athletic training staff has been taking good care of me, Hearn said. It’s been almost a month since my ankle got hurt, and I’m starting to feel good now.
Hearn and the Wildcats (11-7, 2-3 Big Ten) face No. 2 Indiana (15-2, 3-1) today at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
He’s a guy who’s a veteran. He’s a veteran in the system. You saw a year ago when they have five veterans out there running that system, it creates unbelievable problems, IU associate coach Steve McClain said. Reggie is a guy who is a senior and feels like it’s time to step up, and he definitely did that the other night at Illinois and has shown the ability to step up and have big games.
Hearn leads Northwestern and ranks No. 10 in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 14.1 points.
Hearn said he wants to be known as somebody who gave his all every game, who did whatever it took to help the team win.
I think I’ve done a decent job of that so far, but there are a lot of games left in the season, he said. I’m hoping to continue what I’ve been doing and hopefully this team will see success by the end of the year.
Hearn has scored in double figures in 14 of the 16 games he has played in this season.
He scored a career-high 23 points against Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 15.
He missed two games after suffering the ankle injury Dec. 21 against Stanford. Hearn has appeared in four games since the injury and averaged 12.8 points in those games.
He really picked it up in a big way last year, Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. This has been a continuation, a progression, since he came here. He’s gotten better and better in a lot of things.
Hearn is second on the team in rebounding, averaging 4.7.
He rebounds, he defends, just a good player, Carmody said. He’s still not 100 percent, he’s not jumping very well right now, but he’s giving all that he’s got.
While the Wildcats are coming off a big road win, the Hoosiers look to rebound from a tough home loss. Indiana fell to Wisconsin 64-59 Tuesday.
The Hoosiers shot just 37 percent from the floor (just 26.9 percent in the second half).
We’ve been emphasizing a lot of things and getting back on track and playing Indiana basketball, junior guard Victor Oladipo said. The last couple of games, we’ve been losing that, and we’re just getting back into the groove of things and doing a great job of that.