On most nights, Kaneland coach Brian Johnson would expect a victory when his team puts up 70 points.
However, the Knights ran into a sharpshooting DeKalb team Tuesday night. The host Barbs hit nearly 60 percent of their shots from the field, including a stellar 8-for-14 effort from 3-point range.
Senior John Pruett tried to keep Kaneland in contention by tallying 20 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, but DeKalb held off a late surge to claim a 76-70 Northern Illinois Big XII East decision.
"In general, they just scored," Johnson said. "They had a lot of open shots and that's a product of us having to guard multiple good players and a product of us not being disciplined on the defensive end of the floor."
"You score 70 and you think you're going to win. It's unfortunate that our defense is digressing right now."
While Pruett did most of his damage in the second half, seniors Tyler Carlson and Cole Carlson combined for 21 of Kaneland's 29 first half points.
DeKalb (10-13, 3-3) built its largest lead of the half at 33-21 with 3 minutes remaining, but the Knights (10-7, 2-3) finished the half on an impressive 8-0 run, highlighted by Tyler's 3-pointer from the corner and Cole's strong driving layup.
Tyler finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds while Cole added 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting with 6 rebounds.
"Cole played a really nice offensive game, probably the best he's played all year," Johnson said.
Kaneland knotted the score at 36-36 early in the third quarter when Cole Carlson scored inside on a nice feed from Drew David. The Knights forced a turnover off the ensuing inbounds pass, but missed a pair of 3-pointers that could have given them the lead.
The Knights pulled even for the last time with 3 minutes left in the third quarter before DeKalb strung together a 15-5 run for a 59-49 advantage with 6:18 left.
Pruett scored four times off offensive rebounds from that point, converting a pair of conventional 3-point plays. He also had another potential one waved off on an borderline offensive foul call.
"Coach always preaches to attack the glass, rebound, drive, whatever I have to do. I gave it my best to try to score," Pruett said.
"That's three games in a row for John with 26 points or more so he's doing what we expect on offense," Johnson said.
Kaneland pulled to within four points twice but DeKalb's Rudy Lopez Jr. (17 points) made 6 clutch free throws in the final minute to close things out.
"We knew DeKalb was a good team and they were coming off a big win against Sycamore," Pruett said. "We expected them to come in and shoot lights out and they did."
The Knights never found a way to contain DeKalb's tandem of 6-foot-6 sophomore center Luke Davis III and junior guard Jace Kitchen, who combined for 35 points.
Kitchen hit five 3-pointers while Davis was 7-of-10 from the field. Michael Pollack also was 6-for-7 off the bench for 15 points.
"Davis was a load. He had that baby hook down in the paint and he didn't miss many," Johnson said. "It was him inside and Kitchen outside and they were a tough guard."
"I thought we had pretty good energy tonight coming off such a huge win over Sycamore," said DeKalb coach Dave Rohlman. "We'll take it any way we can get it."