GAME NOTES: The Nebraska Cornhuskers shoot for their sixth straight win tonight, as they challenge the Illinois Fighting Illini in Big Ten Conference action at State Farm Center.
Sporting a conference record of 8-6, the Huskers have lost only twice since the third week of January. One of those setbacks was expected against Michigan, the other no so much, versus Penn State. More recently, the team stomped Purdue on Sunday at home in a 76-57 final to move to 13-1 at home on the campaign.
Meanwhile, the Illini have been moving in the opposite direction in the last two months, winning a total of just three games since the start of the new year. Illinois has been watching from the sidelines since last week when it dominated Minnesota on the road, 62-49, winning for the second time in the last four outings.
The Illini lead the all-time series by a 10-4 margin, although Nebraska won the most recent encounter just two weeks ago at home, 67-58.
The Nebraska defense held the Boilermakers to just 6-of-27 shooting from the field in the first half of their meeting, and from there it was smooth sailing for the hosts. Terran Petteway accounted for a game-high 29 points, shooting a perfect 8-of-8 at the free-throw line, followed by Shavon Shields with a double-double consisting of 18 points and 10 rebounds. Walter Pitchford contributed another 10 points and five rebounds for the hosts.
As one of two players to have started all 26 games this season, it only makes sense that Petteway is the leading scorer for the program with his 18.4 ppg, thanks in large part to his 81.8 percent accuracy at the charity stripe. The only other double-digit scorer currently is Shields with his 12.0 ppg, as he and Petteway combine to clear 10.5 rpg as well, but still the squad is being beaten on the glass by 1.5 rpg on average.
As was the case with Nebraska the last time out, the defense for Illinois was also front-and-center against Minnesota on the road, holding the hosts to just 4-of-25 shooting behind the 3-point line and 37.3 percent from the floor overall. Offensively, the Illini leaned on Kendrick Nunn who tallied a game- high 19 points, thanks to 5-of-7 shooting beyond the arc. Nnanna Egwu notched a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, not to mention four blocked shots, while Tracy Abrams accounted for 13 points and six assists for the visitors.
Rayvonte Rice, who tallied just six points on 1-of-7 shooting versus the Golden Gophers, remains the leading scorer for Illinois with his 16.2 ppg. Rice, who has been converting field goals at a 42.4 percent clip, is also responsible for 5.9 rpg, which is second only to Egwu (7.0 ppg) with his 6.1 rpg for a squad that is close to breaking even in that department with the competition.
Both of these teams have had their struggles this season, but Illinois just doesn't appear to have the talent to make winning a habit right now, which leaves the door open for a much-needed road win for the Huskers.
Game Date and Time