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Illinois hands Nebraska its fifth straight loss 71-64

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Pundits love to say defense wins basketball games, and Illinois coach Brad Underwood agreed wholeheartedly on Saturday as the Illini handed Nebraska its fifth straight defeat 71-64.

Kipper Nichols scored 18 points and Ayo Dosunmu 13 for Illinois (7-15, 3-8 Big Ten). Trent Frazier added 11 points for Illinois.

Underwood gave his team credit for a swarming defense, something the Illini have become known for in the conference.

''I think far and away, from a defensive standpoint, this was our best game of the year,'' Underwood said. ''It was fun to watch.''

James Palmer Jr. scored a game-high 22 points for Nebraska (13-9, 3-8), while Tanner Borchardt added 12 points and a game-high 18 rebounds. Thomas Allen scored 11.

The Huskers were cold from the field all afternoon, hitting 25 of 70 for 36 percent, compared to Illinois' 27 of 56 shooting for 48 percent.

''Bad shooting is like a virus,'' said Nebraska coach Tim Miles. ''It goes bad and then all of a sudden you're expecting the worst.''

Illinois led by as many as 15 points late in the game, but Nebraska pulled within nine before Illinois held on for the win.

The Illini kept pace with the Huskers the first half, after jumping out to a 7-0 lead. The final five minutes of the half saw Frazier and Nichols take over for the Illinois offense. Frazier hit two 3-pointers and Nichols one to give Illinois a 38-29 lead at the half.

''Kipper played well against us previously,'' Miles said. ''And he made us pay again today.''

The Huskers seemed out of sync from the opening tip and shot only 32 percent from the field the first half, compared to 47 percent for Illinois.

''I thought our defense had them sped up the entire game,'' Underwood said. ''And that kept them out of sync, I think.''

Illinois made 9 of 23 free throws (39 percent), its worst free-throw percentage since a 2012 win over Georgia Tech.

Nebraska shot 11 of 21 from the line (52 percent).

THE BIG PICTURE

Nebraska came into Saturday's game on a four-game losing streak following a 62-51 loss to Wisconsin on Tuesday. The Huskers are without second-leading scorer Isaac Copeland, who averaged 14 points per game, due a torn ACL. Copeland is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

Nebraska beat the Illini 75-60 in Lincoln in December, although the Illini are 10-2 all-time against Nebraska at home. The Illini beat the Huskers 72-66 at the State Farm Center last season.

Illinois has been inconsistent all season, and the previous two games were good examples. The Illini shocked then-No. 13 Maryland 78-67 on Jan. 26 at Madison Square Garden, recording its highest-ranked win in four seasons. The Illini then lost to Minnesota 86-75 just four days later.

BATTLE OF THE BOARDS

The Huskers were led by Borchardt's 11 offensive rebounds. While out-rebounding Illinois 50-36 overall, it was Nebraska's 21 offensive boards that stood out.

Illinois managed only eight offensive rebounds in the game.

''I was disappointed in the offensive rebound stats,'' Underwood said. ''We obviously need to clear that up before Tuesday (against No. 6 Michigan State).''

OFFENSIVELY SPEAKING

''Offense is fleeting,'' Nichols said after the game. ''It comes and goes. Defensive plays win games.''

Underwood agreed.

''It was a good showing, And boy, am I happy for Kip. He works hard and is a great teammate and locker room guy. I just left him alone all week. He's had enough people in his ear. I just let him go out and play.''

THE DAGGER

With the game waxing and waning in the final few minutes, and Nebraska making several small runs at Illinois, Frazier did what he does the most for his team.

He hit the dagger to seal the victory.

On Saturday, the dagger came in the form of a long 3-pointer with 3:07 to play that put Illinois up 65-53.

''Trent's amazing,'' Underwood said.

UP NEXT

Nebraska: Hosts Maryland on Wednesday.

Illinois: Plays No. 6 Michigan State at home Tuesday.

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Key Players
J. Palmer Jr.
A. Dosunmu
30.7 Min. Per Game 30.7
13.8 Pts. Per Game 13.8
3.2 Ast. Per Game 3.2
4.3 Reb. Per Game 4.3
37.9 Field Goal % 44.2
33.3 Three Point % 35.2
78.7 Free Throw % 69.1
  Defensive rebound by Trent Frazier 7.0
  James Palmer Jr. missed 3-pt. jump shot 9.0
  Defensive rebound by Thorir Thorbjarnarson 19.0
  Giorgi Bezhanishvili missed 2nd of 2 free throws 19.0
  Giorgi Bezhanishvili missed 1st of 2 free throws 19.0
  Personal foul on Thomas Allen 19.0
  Defensive rebound by Giorgi Bezhanishvili 17.0
  Thorir Thorbjarnarson missed dunk 19.0
  Offensive rebound by Thorir Thorbjarnarson 19.0
  Tanner Borchardt missed dunk 21.0
  Offensive rebound by Tanner Borchardt 21.0
Team Stats
Points 64 71
Field Goals 25-70 (35.7%) 27-56 (48.2%)
3-Pointers 3-23 (13.0%) 8-20 (40.0%)
Free Throws 11-21 (52.4%) 9-23 (39.1%)
Total Rebounds 50 36
Offensive 18 6
Defensive 28 25
Team 4 5
Assists 13 12
Steals 3 4
Blocks 2 3
Turnovers 9 10
Fouls 22 23
Technicals 1 1
22 PTS, 8 REB, 2 AST
18 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST
12T
away team logo Nebraska 13-9 293564
home team logo Illinois 7-15 383371
Team Stats
away team logo Nebraska 13-9 71.8 PPG 38.4 RPG 12.9 APG
home team logo Illinois 7-15 72.7 PPG 36.1 RPG 13.5 APG
Key Players
0
J. Palmer Jr. G 19.7 PPG 4.2 RPG 3.0 APG 36.9 FG%
2
K. Nichols F 5.7 PPG 2.8 RPG 1.1 APG 42.7 FG%
Top Scorers
J. Palmer Jr. G 22 PTS 8 REB 2 AST
K. Nichols F 18 PTS 6 REB 2 AST
35.7 FG% 48.2
13.0 3PT FG% 40.0
52.4 FT% 39.1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Palmer Jr. 22 8 2 6/20 2/7 8/12 3 38 1 0 2 1 7
T. Borchardt 12 18 1 6/9 0/0 0/2 3 32 1 0 0 11 7
T. Allen 11 3 3 5/12 0/4 1/3 2 32 0 1 4 1 2
I. Roby 9 8 3 3/11 1/5 2/4 4 39 0 1 1 1 7
G. Watson Jr. 6 2 0 3/12 0/6 0/0 5 30 0 0 1 1 1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Palmer Jr. 22 8 2 6/20 2/7 8/12 3 38 1 0 2 1 7
T. Borchardt 12 18 1 6/9 0/0 0/2 3 32 1 0 0 11 7
T. Allen 11 3 3 5/12 0/4 1/3 2 32 0 1 4 1 2
I. Roby 9 8 3 3/11 1/5 2/4 4 39 0 1 1 1 7
G. Watson Jr. 6 2 0 3/12 0/6 0/0 5 30 0 0 1 1 1
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
T. Thorbjarnarson 2 6 3 1/3 0/0 0/0 3 17 0 0 0 2 4
A. Harris 2 0 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 2 4 0 0 1 0 0
N. Akenten 0 1 1 0/2 0/1 0/0 0 6 1 0 0 1 0
B. Heiman 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
I. Copeland Jr. - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Trueblood - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Burke - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Costello - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Davis - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 64 46 13 25/70 3/23 11/21 22 200 3 2 9 18 28
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
A. Dosunmu 13 3 2 6/14 1/4 0/0 1 34 1 0 1 0 3
T. Frazier 11 4 2 4/8 3/6 0/2 3 29 0 0 2 0 4
G. Bezhanishvili 8 4 0 4/8 0/0 0/4 3 19 0 2 0 1 3
D. Williams 3 4 1 1/3 1/1 0/1 3 18 0 0 1 1 3
A. Jordan 0 5 1 0/3 0/3 0/2 3 24 1 1 0 0 5
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
A. Dosunmu 13 3 2 6/14 1/4 0/0 1 34 1 0 1 0 3
T. Frazier 11 4 2 4/8 3/6 0/2 3 29 0 0 2 0 4
G. Bezhanishvili 8 4 0 4/8 0/0 0/4 3 19 0 2 0 1 3
D. Williams 3 4 1 1/3 1/1 0/1 3 18 0 0 1 1 3
A. Jordan 0 5 1 0/3 0/3 0/2 3 24 1 1 0 0 5
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
K. Nichols 18 6 2 7/8 2/3 2/4 2 29 1 0 2 2 4
A. Feliz 8 2 2 3/5 0/0 2/4 4 18 1 0 1 0 2
A. De La Rosa 5 1 1 0/1 0/0 5/6 3 9 0 0 2 1 0
A. Griffin 3 1 0 1/2 1/1 0/0 1 6 0 0 1 0 1
T. Jones 2 1 1 1/4 0/2 0/0 0 14 0 0 0 1 0
D. Cayce - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Underwood - - - - - - - - - - - - -
S. Oladimeji - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Z. Griffith - - - - - - - - - - - - -
S. Kane - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Higgs - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 71 31 12 27/56 8/20 9/23 23 200 4 3 10 6 25