LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Trent Frazier scored a season-high 29 points, Kofi Cockburn had his eighth straight double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, and No. 25 Illinois held back fighting Nebraska for a hard-earned 81-71 victory Tuesday night.
Illini (12-3, 5-0 Big Ten) have won five games in a row and 10 of 11 and are out for their best start in conference play since 2005.
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Nebraska (6-11, 0-6) has lost nine out of 10 and a program record of 21 against ranked opponents, the last 20 under third-year coach Fred Hoiberg.
The Huskers, who looked to stop in the second half of a 93-65 loss to the Rutgers on Saturday, would not fold against an Illinois team that has won 11 of 12 Big Ten road games.
Nebraska were up by 12 points early and down by eight late in the first half before continuing with a 13-0 run that spanned the halves to take a lead with two possessions.
Illini itched back and went up 51-47 on Coleman Hawkins’ tip-in of Cockburn’s miss and Frazier’s layup. But they could not build on their advantage, and Bryce McGowens’ two free throws equalized 65-65 with less than four minutes left.
With Cockburn on the bench with four errors, Illini began to put the match away, leading 72-65 after Hawkins ‘third-chance putback, Omar Payne’s dunk and Da’Monte Williams’ 3.
McGowens led the Huskers by 19 points and Alonzo Verge Jr. and Derrick Walker had 14 each.
Nebraska, who came in shooting a Big Ti worst 28% on 3s, made four straight from beyond the arc in the first four minutes while coming out for a 16-4 lead.
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The rememberers cooled off in a hurry and missed 14 of his next 16 shots. Illinois started to warm up and went on a 27-7 run with Cockburn scoring on a smart inside move to give Illini their first lead, and Alfonso Plummer and Frazier beat the 3s from the wing to 31-23 late in the first half.
But Illini missed four shots and made five turnovers while going goalless the final 4 1/2 minutes of the half. Nebraska rattled 11 points in a row to a 34-31 lead at halftime, the first time in eight games against Power Five opponents, the Huskers were up at the break.
Illinois: This was a much tougher match than expected for the double-digit favorite Illini. Cockburn were kept under control until the middle of the second half and the Huskers gave Illini everything they could handle until the final few minutes. They have won nine big ten big matches in a row and 12 in a row, including last year’s conference tournament.
Nebraska: The Memories have played some of their best basketball at home, but again could not get over the hump. They have not beaten a ranked opponent since March 2019.
Illinois: Hosts for Michigan on Friday.
Nebraska: Visiting Purdue on Friday.
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