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Palmer scores 23, Nebraska beats Illinois in Big Ten opener

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) James Palmer Jr. only made four field goals Sunday, but the Nebraska guard hit 12 of his 14 free throws to lead the Huskers to a 75-60 win over Illinois.

That's exactly what Fighting Illini coach Brad Underwood didn't want to see in the Big Ten conference opener for both teams.

''I thought we might try to set a Nebraska record and see how many free throws we'd let Palmer shoot tonight,'' Underwood said. ''It's really funny, you spend a couple days and most of our talk was about not fouling. The one thing Palmer does is he puts a lot of fouls on people. We want him to shoot the ball. That was frustrating. But he's an awfully good player. That showed today.''

Palmer finished with 23 points, Isaac Copeland scored 16 and Glynn Watson Jr. added 14 for Nebraska.

Nebraska (7-1) made 25 of its 30 free-throw attempts as an aggressive Illinois (2-6) defense committed 23 fouls, playing right into the Huskers' hands, Palmer said.

''As a team we definitely wanted to get to the free-throw line; we knew they extended their defense and pressured,'' he said. ''We just wanted to get to the basket.''

Nebraska came out hot, hitting its first three field goals and all six of its free throws to go up 13-2 just 2 1/2 minutes into the game.

Illinois trimmed its deficit to four points midway through the first half but Nebraska closed on a 10-2 run to take a 39-23 halftime lead.

The Illini cut the Husker lead to 10 early in the second half and came within nine three times in the final 17 minutes, the last time at 60-51 on Da'Monte Williams' jumper with 6:26 left. But a 7-0 Nebraska flurry capped by a breakaway Isaiah Roby dunk put Nebraska up 70-53 with 3:40 left.

''It was really important with these guys, to get on top of them and then keep them at arm's length,'' said Nebraska coach Tim Miles. ''That's been hard for a lot of teams to do. Gonzaga hasn't done it. Notre Dame didn't do it. We were able to. I think getting to the foul line for us was important and the fact we made some 3s tonight helped too.'' Nebraska hit 6 of 14 3-pointers Sunday .

Underwood agreed that the early lead - and Nebraska's smothering defense - were critical to the outcome.

''That's a veteran basketball team who jumped on us early,'' Underwood said. ''It was uphill from the get-go. We never really got anything established for long periods of time at either end

''Give Nebraska credit, they're top five in every defensive category. They contest everything. When we don't shoot the ball and turn it over as much as we did it's going to be tough night for us.''

Giorgi Bezhanishvili led Illinois with 14 points. Kipper Nichols scored 12 and Ayu Dosunmu added 10 for the Illini.

QUOTABLE

Nebraska radio play-by-play announcer Kent Pavelka called his 1,000th Husker game Sunday.

''Kent Pavelka is an icon in my eyes,'' Miles said. ''First of all, not many people get to 1,000 games. He's great with the call and he's truly a homer, he is with us, he travels with us. He's part of the team. I hope college athletics never loses that, that's still a cool part of life, those radio calls. I'm really happy we got a W on his 1000th game.''

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: The Huskers have now won 16 straight home games. It's their longest home winning streak since winning 16 in a row in 1981-82 and 1982-83 season. It was Nebraska's 10th straight Big Ten home win, dating to the start of last season.

Illinois: The Fighting Illini entered the game ranked 18th in 3-pointers, making an average of 10.9 per game on 40 percent shooting. Illinois was 6 of 15 from 3-point range Sunday, shooting exactly 40 percent.

UP NEXT

Nebraska travels to Minnesota Wednesday

Illinois hosts No. 16 Ohio State Wednesday.

Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
A. Dosunmu
11 G
G. Watson Jr.
5 G
30.4 Min. Per Game 30.4
14.7 Pts. Per Game 14.7
3.7 Ast. Per Game 3.7
4.6 Reb. Per Game 4.6
44.8 Field Goal % 51.2
51.7 Three Point % 47.7
60.0 Free Throw % 88.9
  Defensive rebound by Isaiah Roby 25.0
  Ayo Dosunmu missed layup 27.0
  Offensive rebound by Ayo Dosunmu 27.0
  Alan Griffin missed tip-in 29.0
  Offensive rebound by Alan Griffin 29.0
  Ayo Dosunmu missed jump shot 31.0
  Bad pass turnover on Thomas Allen, stolen by Kipper Nichols 49.0
+ 2 Ayo Dosunmu made dunk 1:06
  Offensive rebound by Ayo Dosunmu 1:07
  Ayo Dosunmu missed layup 1:09
  Defensive rebound by Ayo Dosunmu 1:15
Team Stats
Points 60 75
Field Goals 23-57 (40.4%) 22-46 (47.8%)
3-Pointers 6-15 (40.0%) 6-14 (42.9%)
Free Throws 8-13 (61.5%) 25-30 (83.3%)
Total Rebounds 30 35
Offensive 11 6
Defensive 17 24
Team 2 5
Assists 10 13
Steals 5 8
Blocks 1 3
Turnovers 14 16
Fouls 23 16
Technicals 0 0
14 PTS, 6 REB
23 PTS, 3 REB, 4 AST
12T
away team logo Illinois 2-6 233760
home team logo Nebraska 7-1 393675
Team Stats
away team logo Illinois 2-6 74.4 PPG 36.2 RPG 13.7 APG
home team logo Nebraska 7-1 72.4 PPG 39.5 RPG 13.2 APG
Key Players
15
G. Bezhanishvili F 12.2 PPG 5.0 RPG 0.9 APG 54.8 FG%
0
J. Palmer Jr. G 19.1 PPG 4.3 RPG 3.0 APG 37.8 FG%
Top Scorers
G. Bezhanishvili F 14 PTS 6 REB 0 AST
J. Palmer Jr. G 23 PTS 3 REB 4 AST
40.4 FG% 47.8
40.0 3PT FG% 42.9
61.5 FT% 83.3
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
G. Bezhanishvili 14 6 0 6/8 0/0 2/4 5 21 1 0 2 2 4
A. Dosunmu 10 4 2 3/12 2/4 2/3 4 22 0 0 5 2 2
T. Frazier 9 4 4 3/7 0/1 3/4 1 36 1 0 1 1 3
A. Jordan 5 2 1 2/7 1/3 0/0 3 32 0 0 0 1 1
A. Feliz 2 3 2 1/4 0/1 0/0 4 21 0 0 1 0 3
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
G. Bezhanishvili 14 6 0 6/8 0/0 2/4 5 21 1 0 2 2 4
A. Dosunmu 10 4 2 3/12 2/4 2/3 4 22 0 0 5 2 2
T. Frazier 9 4 4 3/7 0/1 3/4 1 36 1 0 1 1 3
A. Jordan 5 2 1 2/7 1/3 0/0 3 32 0 0 0 1 1
A. Feliz 2 3 2 1/4 0/1 0/0 4 21 0 0 1 0 3
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
K. Nichols 12 2 1 5/6 2/2 0/0 1 24 1 0 2 0 2
A. Griffin 5 3 0 2/6 1/1 0/0 0 11 1 0 1 3 0
D. Williams 2 1 0 1/4 0/2 0/0 3 23 0 1 1 1 0
A. De La Rosa 1 1 0 0/2 0/0 1/2 0 4 0 0 1 1 0
T. Underwood 0 2 0 0/1 0/1 0/0 2 4 1 0 0 0 2
S. Kane 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
D. Cayce - - - - - - - - - - - - -
S. Oladimeji - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Z. Griffith - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Higgs - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Jones - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 60 28 10 23/57 6/15 8/13 23 200 5 1 14 11 17
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Palmer Jr. 23 3 4 4/12 3/6 12/14 0 38 1 0 5 2 1
I. Copeland Jr. 16 5 1 6/9 1/1 3/5 0 35 1 1 2 1 4
G. Watson Jr. 14 6 3 5/9 2/4 2/2 4 24 0 1 2 1 5
I. Roby 8 6 3 3/8 0/2 2/3 4 31 3 0 3 0 6
T. Allen 8 2 1 2/4 0/0 4/4 3 31 2 0 3 0 2
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Palmer Jr. 23 3 4 4/12 3/6 12/14 0 38 1 0 5 2 1
I. Copeland Jr. 16 5 1 6/9 1/1 3/5 0 35 1 1 2 1 4
G. Watson Jr. 14 6 3 5/9 2/4 2/2 4 24 0 1 2 1 5
I. Roby 8 6 3 3/8 0/2 2/3 4 31 3 0 3 0 6
T. Allen 8 2 1 2/4 0/0 4/4 3 31 2 0 3 0 2
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
N. Akenten 4 4 0 1/3 0/1 2/2 1 13 0 0 0 2 2
A. Harris 2 1 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 1 11 1 0 0 0 1
T. Borchardt 0 2 1 0/0 0/0 0/0 3 15 0 1 1 0 2
B. Heiman 0 1 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 2 0 0 0 0 1
J. Trueblood - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Burke - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Costello - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Thorbjarnarson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Davis - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 75 30 13 22/46 6/14 25/30 16 200 8 3 16 6 24