Frazier, bench help Illini survive scare at Nebraska 81-71

You don’t just go to Pinnacle Bank Arena and win easily. For the second year in a row, last-place Nebraska gave a ranked Illinois team all they could manage, but the Illinis once again found a way out of Lincoln with a win.

Illinois, number 25, dropped 12 points in the first five minutes and trailed the Cornhuskers (6-11, 0-6 Big Ten) at halftime. Illinois made just 3 of their first 13 three-way throws and 1 of their first 7 free throws. But the Illini (12-3, 5-0 Big Ten) still found a way to carve out a place and conclude a victory over the Big Ten, 81-71, with a solid finish from his seniors and his bench. Illinois is now 5-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

Trent Frazier was huge for Illinois with a high 29 points (9 for 18 shots) and five assists and four steals, a tag team high. Frazier had 20 points in the second half on a 5v8 shot.

All-American Center Kofi Cockburn struggled, especially defensively, but still notched his eighth consecutive double-double with 16 points (8-for-18 FG, 0-5 FT) and 13 rebounds despite spending the last four minutes. Jacob Grandison also had 12 points and four assists.

The Illini also got huge boosts on the bench Omar Payne (high points of the season, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks) and Coleman hawkins (4 points, 8 rebounds).

Bryce mcgowens led Nebraska with 19 points, while Alonzo Vergé added 14 points and 9 assists and Derrick walker had 14 points and 7 rebounds.

Nebraska came out shooting and scored their first four 3-pointers, including two by Tominaga, to take a surprising 16-4 lead after just four minutes of play. But Illini’s defense managed a 27-7 streak. – in which Nebraska made 2 of 16 shots – to take a 31-23 lead. But Nebraska went on an 11-0 streak to end the half, taking advantage of five Illini turnovers in the final five minutes of the half, to take a 34-31 lead at halftime. .

The teams traded punches before Illini’s bench helped Illini secure a victory. Payne and Hawkins scored six points in an 8-1 streak to take a 51-47 lead midway through the second half.

When Cockburn went to the bench with four fouls in the last media timeout, Payne and Hawkins scored six points to score a 12-2 run. Payne also had two rebounds and a block in the last four minutes, and Hawkins had five rebounds in the last four minutes. Illinois ended the game with their biggest lead.

What this means: Illinois didn’t have an inspiring performance on Tuesday, but ultimately took care of business in a very supportive first quarter on the Big Ten schedule, which included four teams currently in the bottom five of the conference standings. But the Illinis have earned three major road wins and sidestepped disappointments – unlike Purdue and Michigan – to prepare well for a much tougher part of the calendar. Win it, baby. Illinois, along with the state of Michigan (which also had a favorable early calendar), is setting the tone. Now come the most difficult tests to date.

Game Star: Super seniors die hard. With Illinois struggling to make three and Cockburn ineffective on the inside, Trent Frazier gave Illinois a much-needed playmaker off the rebound and two late-game 3-point keys, an assist for Payne, an assist for Da’Monte Williams for three and four free throws in the final minute for seal the victory. Williams and Grandison made huge 3 points in the last five minutes.

Game Statistics: Illinois only made one of their first seven free throws and Cockburn missed all five. Illinois dominated Nebraska 44-34 in paint. In the last two games, Illinois have only made 15 of 49 of three (30.6%), but the Illini (7-19 of three) have made four of their last five of three.

Don’t overlook: Brad underwood said it was his deepest team, but he’s really been on a six or seven man rotation recently. But the Illini eventually flexed their depth with huge contributions from Hawkins and Payne off the bench. With Cockburn and Alonso Plummer in difficulty (4 against 12) and on the bench in the last minutes, the Illini still managed to close a match that was in doubt until the last two minutes. Few teams can survive this kind of struggles of their stars, regardless of the opponent. The Illini have found a way.

And after: Illinois is set to host Michigan on Friday, which postponed its previous two games due to COVID-19 issues within the program. But a spokesperson for the Michigan team told Michigan Insider the Wolverines “expect to play” at Champaign after not having enough players to face Michigan State and Purdue on Saturday and Tuesday, respectively. Michigan (7-6, 1-2) started the season # 6 in the AP’s pre-season Top 25, but are 1-6 to start the season against KenPom’s Top 100 teams. Hunter Dickinson leads the Wolverines with 16.1 points and 8.8 rebounds, while the seniors Eli brooks (12.9 points) is the only other Michigan player to have a double-digit average score.

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