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Abysmal 3-point shooting by Illinois not enough for Husker upset, UNL falls 72-56

Nebraska v Illinois Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Despite the Illinois Fighting Illini shooting a season low 17.2% from 3-point range, going just 5-of-29, the Nebraska Cornhuskers couldn’t find enough offense to pull off a tough road win. Instead, turnovers yet again proved an achilles heal impossible to overcome for UNL as a second-straight opponent scored 20+ points off Husker turnovers with Nebraska losing 72-56 in Champaign Tuesday night.

Sam Griesel led Nebraska in scoring, hitting a season-high in Big Ten action of 21 points, just shy of his 22 against Maine for a season-high overall. At one point in the first half, Griesel had 15 of Nebraska’s 17 points in fact. The only other Husker to hit double figures was Keisei Tominaga who scored 11.

Griesel and Derrick Walker combined for six rebounds apiece to lead the Huskers while Walker led the team with four assists before eventually fouling out.

Matthew Mayer led the Illini in scoring with 16 points, one of four Illinois players in double figures.

Nebraska fought hard for this one, taking an early lead in the first half and battling out to as high as a seven point lead at the 13:03 mark, up 12-5. Illinois responded with a 9-0 run to take a narrow 14-12 lead before the Huskers could stem the bleeding. The Huskers were able to tie it up twice before Illinois took control for the remainder of the half, leading by as much as eight twice. UNL was able to trim it to just 38-37 Illini in the lead heading into the locker room, though.

Nebraska was able to hit from deep at a good enough clip on the night, shooting 8-of-20 for 40%. It was inside the arc shooting that doomed the Huskers as the team managed just 22 points inside the paint and went 8-of-16 on layup attempts. Overall, Nebraska shot just 40% from the field, going 20-of-50. Late in the second half was when the Huskers needed those buckets the most, but instead the Huskers shot just 4-of-16 from inside the arc.

Despite the struggles shooting and shorthanded roster, Nebraska fought hard late into this one. UNL retook the lead at the 12 minute mark on a 3-pointer by Tominaga. Terrence Shannon, Jr. quickly tied it back up at 50 and the Illini were able to lead for the remainder of the game. The Huskers had it within four on a layup by Griesel with 7:37 remaining, but Illinois finally got into double figures in the final two minutes to bring up the final margin to 72-56.

The loss drops Nebraska to 10-13 overall and 3-9 in league action. Nebraska returns to Lincoln to take on Penn State on Sunday, Feb, 5. Tipoff is set for 3:30 p.m. Central Time. The Huskers fell 76-65 at PSU on Jan. 21.