Opponent: Eastern Illinois University
Coach: Jay Spoonhour (6th season)
2016-17 Record: 14-15 (6-10 Ohio Valley Conference)
2017-18 Record: 0-0 (1-1 exhibition games)
Date: Saturday, November 11th
Time: 7:30pm CST
Okay, so it was an exhibition game. But a win is a win and the Eastern Illinois Panthers pulled off one against Illinois a week ago. The 80-67 win does not count towards this seasons record, but it is still something to look into if you are going into your first game of the season.
The Illini started out strong in the game. They even lead by 12 in the first half before going into the locker room with a 4 point lead. It’s an early season exhibition. Most folks probably didn’t think much of it. The Illini will regroup, come back out, and annihilate this team from the Ohio Vally Conference out of the water. The problem is, that didn’t happen.
Even when the Panthers were down, they didn’t let up. They fought hard against a team with a noticeable talent difference. In the end they outplayed and out hustled a storied Big Ten Basketball program. One must note that this is an Illinois team that is coming off a 20-15 season with a first year head coach. Problems, even in an exhibition game, could pop up. But no one expected this. Not a loss to Eastern Illinois.
The Panthers then went on to play a second exhibition game against Division II Southern Indiana where they lost a close one 92-95. So, I it might just be that Illinois really is going to take down turn this year. It might take awhile before we really know.
Senior Montel Goodwin lead will help lead the Panthers this year. The 6’2” guard averaged 14.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg, and 3.1 rpg last season. Against Illinois he had 14 points and 4 steals. The Huskers will see Montel shooting a lot and early in the game and will need to contain him to help secure a win.
Next to Montel is 6’9” Muusa Dama. The senior forward averaged 9.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg, and shot 53% from the floor last season. All while playing off the bench. This year he has been starting and has done a fairly decent job in the past two games making his presence known in the paint. He put up 14 points against Illinois along with 3 assists and two blocked shots. Nothing to sneeze at.
While the Illinois win could be a little concerning for the Huskers I would not worry too much about it. The Illini lost not only their coach but also point guard Tracy Abrams and guard Malcolm Hill. Both of who were major contributors to the team last year. If anything it is a preseason fluke.
The Huskers played played fairly well in all three exhibition games this year. There seems to be more to Nebraska than there was against Illinois and I believe the Huskers will pull out this win. If not, it may be a harbinger of what will come the rest of the season.