Illinois 71, Nebraska 51 — FINAL
LINCOLN, Neb. — D.J. Richardson scored a career-high 30 points, Brandon Paul added 14 and Illinois ended a three-game losing streak with a 71-51 victory against Nebraska on Tuesday night.
Illinois (15-5, 2-4 Big Ten) held Nebraska without a field goal for the last 8:51 of the first half and led 35-23 at the break. The Huskers got no closer than six points the rest of the way.
Dylan Talley had 16 points and Brandon Ubel added 10 for the Cornhuskers (10-10, 1-6).
John Groce, in his first year at Illinois, recorded his 100th win in five seasons as a head coach.
The Illini shot 45 percent and committed 14 turnovers, but they had more offensive rebounds (12) than Nebraska had total rebounds (10) in the first half and finished with a 40-28 advantage on the boards.
Nebraska was 2 of 14 on threes and shot 32 percent for the game.— AP
McLaurin 3-4 1-2 7, Egwu 3-6 2-4 8, Richardson 9-14 6-6 30, Paul 4-13 6-8 14, Abrams 0-1 0-0 0, Bertrand 3-5 1-1 7, LaTulip 0-0 0-0 0, Shaw 1-2 0-0 3, Henry 0-1 0-0 0, Langford 0-1 0-0 0, Djimde 0-0 0-0 0, Berardini 0-0 0-0 0, Griffey 1-6 0-0 2. Totals 24-53 16-21 71.
Ubel 4-11 2-2 10, Shields 0-2 2-6 2, Rivers 2-4 1-3 5, Gallegos 2-8 0-0 5, Talley 4-11 7-7 16, Parker 0-2 2-2 2, Ritchie 0-0 2-2 2, Menke 0-0 1-2 1, Tyrance 1-2 2-2 4, Vucetic 0-2 0-0 0, Almeida 1-2 2-4 4, Kurkowski 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-44 21-30 51.
Halftime—Illinois 35-23. 3-Point Goals—Illinois 7-22 (Richardson 6-9, Shaw 1-2, Bertrand 0-1, Henry 0-1, Griffey 0-3, Paul 0-6), Nebraska 2-14 (Talley 1-4, Gallegos 1-7, Rivers 0-1, Tyrance 0-1, Ubel 0-1). Fouled Out—Shields. Rebounds—Illinois 40 (Egwu 10), Nebraska 28 (Ubel 6). Assists—Illinois 12 (Abrams, Paul 3), Nebraska 5 (Gallegos, Talley 2). Total Fouls—Illinois 24, Nebraska 18. Technicals—Illinois Bench, Nebraska Bench. A—9,556.
Illinois 49, Nebraska 38 — 11:41 second half
David Rivers opened the second half scoring with an easy bucket for Nebraska, only to be followed by an easy Sam McLaurin bucket.
Joseph Bertrand got caught on a switch guarding Ubel in the post and did a nice job of denying the 6-10 senior the ball.
How D.J. Richardson’s bucket on the play in which he was whistled for a charge is beyond me.
It was beyond John Groce, too, who got a technical from Bo Boroski. Boroski has really hurt the Illini this season.
Mike Sanzere trying to calm Groce down.
I saw a young woman wearing a throwback Brian Randle Illinois jersey a few minutes ago. Who knew Brian had fans in Nebraska.
Tracy Abrams walked off real gingerly with some kind of lower-body injury. He’s in the locker room with athletic trainer Paul Schmidt.
“Where ya from, ref, Chicago?” said a fan behind me. I think it’s the same guy who called Griffey violent.
“We played with zero pride.” — Nebraska coach Tim Miles’ halftime Tweet.
Tight deadline, working solo here, so I need to get to work.
Illinois 35, Nebraska 23 — HALFTIME
The Nebraska students have those big heads waving them behind the Illinois basket. Tom Osborne is among the heads featured.
Brandon Paul continues to get the calls on that head nod when he gets hedged. Thought officials might catch on to that. Griffey got hit with a moving screen immediately after. Looks like a makeup call to me. It was Tyler’s second foul.
Myle Henry checked in midway through the half after not seeing the floor against Northwestern.
Myke fired up a three right away. It was a good shot. He missed it. Then he got beat for an offensive rebound and grabbed his guy from behind. Not a smart play. McLaurin checked in for him right after that.
Benny Parker ran into Nnanna Egwu and crumbled to the ground. Usually when 5-9 guys run into 7-footers at full speed, it doesn’t end well for the little guy. Parker made it to the Nebraska bench under his own power.
D.J. Richardson is having a nice night inside and outside the arc. He had a layup on a fast break and followed that up with a real nice pull-up jumper. He’s also got a pair of threes.
It looks like the tried to do a striping type thing here with the fans. The folks down low are wearing red. The people above them wearing white, then red then white again. It’s not really working so well. Applaud their effort, though.
Groce didn’t at all like the call against Abrams for his third foul.
Griffey also got thre in the first half. “Stop cheating, Tyler Griffey. You’re violent, Tyler Griffey,” said a fan above me.
First time that’s ever been said?
Shields has three fouls for the Huskers.
The Illini shot 47 percent (15 for 32) from the floor and 18 percent (2 for 11) from deep. They outrebounded the Huskers 25-10, including x12 offensive boards. Illinois forced six turnovers.
Richardson leads with 10 points. Paul and Bertrand have seven each.
Egwu pulled down seven boards, Bertrand had five and Sam McLaurin four.
Nebraska shot 30 percent (7 for 23) and 14 percent (1 for 7) from deep.
Dylan Talley led the Huskers with nine points.
Illinois 15, Nebraska 6 — 11:34 first half
Whoa, hadn’t seen that from Sam McLaurin in an Illinois uniform. He demanded the ball in the post on the first possession and made a statement with a two-handed dunk.
I understand some of you missed the start of the game because of the OSU-Iowa game. So, that’s what happened.
Illinois making a point to feed McLaurin and Egwu in the post early. Nnanna had five rebound (three offensive) at the first media timeout.
Anti-Marcu Jackson jinx for D.J.? He’s got two early threes.
Brandon Paul missed a couple of deep shots early then got to the basketand converted an and-1. The Illinois bench went nuts.
He followed it up with another really ill-advised deep three. Needs to keep getting to the bucket. He can get there at will and he can get those threes any time.
Even though he was called for a travel, the Illinois bench applauded Tyler Griffey’s effort on a tough offensive rebound.
Groce didn’t like a travel that was called against Egwu.
Really nice people here. They cheered for every Illinois player and Groce during the introductions.
How is Andre Almeida not playing left tackle over at Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium. Dude is a monster. Bertrand had no chance rebounding against him. Lucky for Illinois he missed the easy putback.
Illinois (14-5, 1-4) at Nebraska (10-9, 1-5) — Tipoff (BTN)
Illinois will go with the same starting lineup it used against Northwestern: Tracy Abrams, D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul, Sam McLaurin and Nnanna Egwu.
Miles is worried about Illinois’ ability to shoot the three-pointer, even though the Illini have struggled from deep of late.
“They’ve been an outstanding three-point shooting team and they’ve been in a slump so we’ve got to make sure they stay in a slump and handle screen and roll, protect the rim and get back. All those things we try to do every day,” he said. “I think like anything, when you don’t make shots, you have to find other ways to score. When they just shot the three so well, there’s always a period of adjustment that goes with that for a team. That’s what they’ve struggled with doing, finding ways to score the ball other ways when the three’s not going in.”
They just had a halfcourt shooting promotion her ebefore the tip. The guy got 30 seconds to make two halfcourters. He wasn’t even close on any of his 10 tries. He was also never completely behind the halfcourt line, so whatever prize he was to win would probably have been contested.
The played the “Space Jam” song to get the crowd fired up as the teams took the court. They were playing some really good stuff to that point.
Small Illinois media contingent here in Lincoln. Herb Gould from the Sun-Times and I were on the same flight this morning out of O’Hare. Vaughn McClure is here from the Tribune filling in for Shannon Ryan.
In a strange twist, the woman who sang the National Anthem was named Shannon McClure. Weird.
Rob McColley is here from Smile Politely and Matt Wettersten from WCIA made the trip. Matt went to visit Brice Weber at K-State yesterday.
They turn the lights off here for the lineup. It’s really dark. Thank goodness for light on the keyboard.
Illinois (14-5, 1-4) at Nebraska (10-9, 1-5) — 30 minutes until tipoff (BTN)
Caught up with former Illini forward Eddie Johnson a little bit ago. Johnson is calling the game for the Big Ten Network along with Kevin Kugler.
Johnson spent years as the analyst for the Phoenix Suns, where he played his pro ball and said he always wanted to get back around the Big Ten and cover some games for the league.
We’ll have more from Johnson in tomorrow’s coverage. He’sa fan of John Groce.
Whether Illinois wins or loses, John Groce just wants his team to play better. He said it about a dozen times yesterday and there’s really not much more to say than that. The effort is there and the desire is there, they just have to make some shots and play better as a unit defensively.
As far as whether there’s carryover from last year’s collapse, Groce isn’t 100 percent sure if there is a hangover with the team on the verge of a similar slide here at the start of Big Ten play.
“When I say I don’t know that totally, we had Mannie Jackson come in to get his jersey honored and he had a great point. Only each individual knows in his heart and his mind whether or not they’re focused on looking through the front window of the car or whether they’re looking through the rearview. I can guess that and I can talk to them about that. I can do that and try to exemplify that myself but at the end of the day that’s a conscious choice that each individual has to make whether to look through the front windshield and keep the car moving forward or whether to look through that rearview mirror,” the coach said.
“Tough guys understand that you’ve got to get to the next play, you’ve got to get to the next game, you’ve got to get to the next practice; that’s what tough guys do. Do I really know? I don’t think so. We’ve had good practices for the most part, especially the last couple of days, so I think they’re looking forward. At the end of the day, that’s the challenge when you’re dealing with 18- 22-year-olds, can you get inside their heart and minds? You can do the best you can through knowing them and through relationships and I’ve got a good idea, but at the end of the day they’re the ones that have to make a conscious choice and be 100 percent sold on the fact that we’ve got to move forward and cannot look back.”
Sparse crowd here so far. They average about 8,000 or so fans here. That would be a good draw tonight. There’s some orange sprinkled in here, too.
Illinois (14-5, 1-4) at Nebraska (10-9, 1-5) — 60 minutes until tipoff (BTN)
Nebraska’s players were the first on the floor. They were followed by Illinois’ Tyler Griffey. In recent games, Mike LaTulip, Myke Henry and other players were coming on the floor first. Maybe Griffey coming out first will change their fortunes. It worked for them earlier in the season.
Myle Henry came out after Griffey and he was smiling. Myke is always smiling, even if he didn’t play last game, the kid is always in a good mood.
Assistant coach Dustin Ford traveled east last weekend to watch Austin Colbert make his season debut. Colbert, who signed with Illinois in November had to sit out after transferring. Word is he was solid, only got seven shots. The team they were playing pressured the ball and the guards had a tough time getting it in to the big guys. The staff loves Colbert’s potential. They’re expecting him to help them next season.
Ford is also sporting a goatee. “It’s my streak stopper,” he said.
Nebraska got a shot in the arm saturday with the return of 6-foot-10 forward Brandon Ubel who missed two weeks with a fractured elbow. That just doesn’t sound pleasant at all. It was initially thought Ubel would miss the remainder of the season with his 12 points and seven rebounds. But he’s back and some other Huskers benefited during his absence.
“You bring Ubel back and what’s happened is Shavon Shields and David Rivers got a great opportunity to grow in their role and with their games when Ubel was out,” Groce said. “Shavon Shields goes for 29 on Saturday against Penn State. He’s averaging 24 points a game in his last two games. David Rivers goes 8 for 8 from the field in East Lansing as that game was nip and tuck all the way until the end. That’s made them better. No one wants one of their players to get injured, certainly Tim doesn’t either, but sometimes there’s a silver lining and the silver lining for them as I‘ve watched them on film is the development of Rivers and Shields and some of their other guys while Ubel was out. Now you add Ubel, they win the game on Saturday and I’m sure they’ve got a lot of confidence now.”
Groce also addressed his team’s effort and Tyler Griffey coming off the bench. Check that out here, along with my prediction. That prediction isn’t worth much these days. I’m in a real funk. Is it my fault or the team’s fault?
I can't tell you how many people have thanked me for picking against Illinois. I'm just trying to get a win. This is worse than going 0 for 4 with four Ks.
Illinois (14-5, 1-4) at Nebraska (10-9, 1-5) — 90 minutes until tipoff (BTN)
Good evening from the Devaney Center for tonight’s Big Ten game between the Illini and Cornhuskers.
This is the final season for Nebraska in the Devaney Center, which opened in 1976. This is the final game in this building for the Illini and they certainly don’t have pleasant memories of this place after what happened here last year.
Nebraska will move into the $11.25 million Pinnacle Bank Arena next season in the Haymarket District of Lincoln.
That beatdown at the hands of the lowly Cornhuskers signaled the beginning of the end of the Bruce Weber era in Champaign. The thing we remember the most about that game was Meyers Leonard crying in Wayne McClain’s arms as the Huskers ran away with the game.
As far as new coach John Groce is concerned, that’s old news.
“We haven’t talked a whole lot about that. It’s irrelevant, has nothing to do with the game (tonight),” Groce said when asked about last year’s meeting here in Lincoln.
Nebraska is also operating under a first-year coach in Tim Miles. He replaced Doc Sadler, who consoled Weber after that game here last year only to be fired at season’s end himself. Sadler is on staff with Bill Self at Kansas. They play Weber and Kansas State tonight.
Miles is entertaining. He operates a wildly popular Twitter account. Follow him (@CoachMiles). He will tweet tonight at halftime from the locker room to tell his followers what his team needs to do in the second half against the Illini. It’s something he started at Colorado State and he’s brought it to the Big Ten with him.
Is it still cold back home? It’s cold here. Like single digits cold. The last time I was in this area was for the College World Series in Omaha this past summer. It was hot. Like triple digits hot. The first game I went to was Florida-Kent State. I was told it was the hottest game at the CWS in about 12 years. I pick great times to come to Nebraska.
Wrote about D.J. Richardson today, read about him here. Regardless if he’s playing well or struggling, he’s always in a good mood. Everyone in the Illinois basketball family loves him. Has anyone else noticed that D.J. looks a lot like 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick? They look alike and they sound the same when they speak. Pay attention to that some time.
The building is rather empty right now with just a few members of the media and the ushers who will direct the folks here to their seats.
Nebraska has five retired numbers hanging from the rafters here: men’s players Stuart Lantz, Dave Hoppen, Eric Piatkowski and Maurice Ivy. Women’s star Karen Jennings is also honored here.
The Illinois women won here last week, maybe the men can follow suit?
I’m about to hop on the pregame show with Loren Tate and Steve Kelly who are back in Champaign at our studios. Ed Bond is getting me set up here from courtside. If you’re in the Champaign area, we’re on WDWS 1400-AM.