Nebraska (13-14) at Illinois (20-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 2, 5:15 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Assembly Hall (17,200) -- Champaign, Illinois.
Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Nebraska 10-7, Illinois 11-4. Away
Record: Nebraska 2-7, Illinois 5-4. Neutral Record: Nebraska 1-0, Illinois
4-1. Conference Record: Nebraska 4-10, Illinois 7-8. Series Record: Illinois
GAME NOTES: The Illinois Fighting Illini will close out their home schedule on
Saturday, as they welcome the Nebraska Cornhuskers to Assembly Hall for a Big
Ten Conference clash.
Nebraska has put together a rather lackluster season, going just 13-15 overall
while being situated toward the bottom of the Big Ten standings with a 4-11
league ledger. The Cornhuskers are losers of three of their last four games,
most recently falling to nationally-ranked Wisconsin on the road on Tuesday
Illinois was the hottest team in the Big Ten heading into last Sunday's bout
at Michigan, but it fell victim to the tough road game as it dropped a 71-58
decision. The Illini are 20-9 overall and have made a mark in arguably the
most difficult conference in the nation, going 7-8 in the Big Ten with wins
over Indiana, Ohio State and Minnesota. They have also claimed signature non-
conference wins against Butler and Gonzaga to round out a resume' that appears
strong enough for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Illinois claimed the first meeting between the two teams this season, winning
71-51 in Lincoln on Jan. 22, to improve its standing in the all-time series to
The Cornhuskers never had a chance in their latest game, as they were outshot
by Wisconsin from the field, 50.9 percent to 32.8 percent, on their way to an
embarrassing 31-point setback. Overcoming his teammates' struggles was Dylan
Talley, who shot 9-of-20 from the field for 21 points while also grabbing a
team-high eight rebounds. Brandon Ubel was also useful in the loss with 10
points and six boards. On the season, Nebraska has the Big Ten's most futile
offense, as it pours in just 58.5 ppg, and while its scoring defense would
appear strong by most league's standards (63.2 ppg), it's only good enough for
ninth place in the Big Ten. Talley isn't typically a strong shooter, as he
nets a mere 37.4 percent of his field goal attempts, but he generates enough
volume to lead the team with 14.2 ppg. Ray Gallegos (12.3 ppg) has also been
sub par from the floor (.365), while Ubel brings stability to the frontcourt
with 11.3 ppg and 6.8 rpg.
Despite leading Michigan by two points early on in the second half last
Sunday, Illinois fell victim to an 11-0 Wolverines run and it could never
recover from there on its way to a 13-point defeat. The Illini shot only 41.2
percent from the floor, while Michigan netted 51 percent of its total shots.
D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul and Tracy Abrams all poured in 10 points in the
loss. It was a rare performance for Illinois, which ranks fourth in the league
in scoring offense with 70.8 ppg, although it is oftentimes let down by a
lackluster scoring defense (65.3 ppg). Paul scores 16.2 ppg and is a strong
defender with 1.2 spg and 0.8 bpg, but the point guard has more turnovers (83)
than assists (82). Richardson contributes 12.8 ppg thanks mostly to his 68 3-
pointers, which is the second-most in the league behind Indiana's Jordan Hulls
(71). Rounding out the guard-heavy squad is Abrams, who leads the trio in
field goal percentage (.419) en route to his 10.9 ppg.
Following a setback against one of the nation's top teams, Illinois will be
eager to return home where it has gone 11-4 this season, to face a team that
has struggled all season long. Figure the Illini's guards to get back in
rhythm here, leading their team to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois 74, Nebraska 63
03/02 10:38:29 ET
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