Huskers Host No. 25 Illinois Tuesday Night
After a two-game road trip, Nebraska returns to Pinnacle Bank Arena Tuesday evening, as the Huskers host No. 25/24 (AP/Coaches) Illinois. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. and the matchup will be carried on the Big Ten Network and the Huskers Radio Network. Live video is also available on the Fox Sports app, while the Husker app will feature the Huskers Radio Network call.
Tickets are available for the only meeting of the season between the two teams by visiting Huskers.com/Tickets, calling the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office at 800-8-BIGRED during business hours or at the PBA box office beginning at 6 p.m. It is the final home game of winter break and ticket prices range from $10 to $25.
|Nebraska vs. No. 25/24 Illinois
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 11
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. (CT)
Arena: Pinnacle Bank Arena (15,000)
Illinois Fighting Illini
2021-22 Record:11-3, 4-0 B1G
Head Coach: Brad Underwood
Record at Illinois: 82-59 (5th year)
Career Record: 190-86 (9th year)
2021-22 Record: 6-10, 0-5 B1G
Head Coach: Fred Hoiberg
Record at Nebraska: 20-55 (3rd year)
Career Record: 135-111 (8th year)
Series History: Illinois leads, 18-8
Last Matchup ILL 86, NEB 70 (2/25/21)
On the Air
Radio: Tuesday's game will be carried on the Huskers Radio Network, including KLIN (1400 AM) in Lincoln, KXSP (590 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington and will also be available on Huskers.com and the Huskers app.
Huskers Radio Network
Play-by-Play: Kent Pavelka
Analyst: Jake Muhleisen
TV/Online: Tuesday's game will be televised on the Big Ten Network with Jeff Levering and Brian Butch on the call. It is also available on the web, mobile devices and connected TVs via the Fox Sports App.
Play-by-Play: Jeff Levering
Analyst: Brian Butch
The Huskers (6-10, 0-5 Big Ten) look to bounce back from a disappointing 93-65 loss at Rutgers on Saturday afternoon. Nebraska shot nearly 50 percent from the field, but Rutgers shot 58.3 percent from the floor, including 10-of-18 from the 3-point line, to break the game open. The Scarlet Knights took advantage of 14 Husker turnovers and turned them into 25 points.
Bryce McGowens provided some highlights for Nebraska, finishing with a game-high 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting to lead three Huskers in double figures. The freshman tops the Huskers in scoring at 15.7 points per game and has been in double figures in each of his last six contests dating back to Dec. 11. McGowens is also second on the team in both rebounding (5.5 rpg) and assists per game (1.8 apg).
Derrick Walker continued his run of double-figure efforts with 12 points and six rebounds. The 6-foot-9 forward has four straight games in double figures and has 10 double-figure efforts while pacing the Big Red with 6.3 rebounds per game.
lllinois (11-3, 4-0 Big Ten) has won nine of its last 10 games following a 76-64 win over Maryland on Thursday night. All-American Kofi Cockburn had 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting and 18 rebounds, as Illinois shot 52 percent in the second half to overcome a 34-30 halftime deficit. Trent Frazier and Alfonso Plummer added 16 and 12 points, respectively for the Illini. During Illinois' four-game win streak, Cockburn is averaging 24.5 points and 13.3 rebounds per game.
Tuesday's game starts a three-game stretch over the next seven days as NU travels to No. 3 Purdue on Friday before hosting Indiana in a special MLK Day matchup.
11.3 - C.J. Wilcher has provided a scoring punch off the bench, averaging 11.3 points per game over the last three contests on .565 shooting including 7-of-12 from 3-point range.
3- Alonzo Verge's three games with 10+ assists ties for fourth nationally and matches the most by any power conference player in 2021-22 (also Kentucky's Sahvir Wheeler) as of Jan. 9. Verge never had 10+ assists in his two seasons at Arizona State.
Brad Underwood is in his fifth year at Illinois after previous coaching stops at Oklahoma State and Stephen F. Austin. Last year, the Illini went 24-7, won the Big Ten title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament before being upset in the second round.
Despite losing All-American and NBA draft pick Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois brings back a veteran squad led by preseason All-American Kofi Cockburn and fifth-year senior Trent Frazier. Illinois started 2-2, as Cockburn missed Illinois first three games, but has won 9-of-10 with the only loss being a four-point setback to Arizona on Dec. 11. Since that loss, Illinois has won all four of its games by double figures.
The Illini are shooting 47 percent from the field, including 39 percent from the 3-point arc while averaging 10 3-pointers a game. Cockburn paces the attack by averaging 22.5 points on 62 percent shooting and 12.5 rebounds per game. Utah transfer Alfonso Plummer is averaging 16.4 ppg, while shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. Jacob Grandison (12.1 ppg) and Trent Frazier (11.5 ppg) provide scoring threats.
Series History: Illinois leads the all-time series, 18-8, over Nebraska in a series that dates back to 1921. Nebraska is 6-11 against Illinois since joining the Big Ten, and the Illini have won four straight meetings. Tuesday's meeting is the only regular-season matchup between the two teams. NU is 4-2 against Illinois since moving into Pinnacle Bank Arena. Prior to Nebraska joining the conference in 2011-12, the Huskers and Illini had played only once since 1976 - a 100-73 Husker victory in the 1990 San Juan Shootout.
Last meeting: The Huskers trailed No. 5 Illinois by just six three minutes into the second half, but a series of runs doomed the Huskers in an 86-70 loss to the Illini on Feb. 25, 2021. Kofi Cockburn scored nine straight points after Nebraska cut the lead to six, and Illinois scored six consecutive points four minutes later. The Huskers continued to hang around until a late 12-3 Illini run put the game away.
Trey McGowens paced three Huskers in double figures with 16 points as he scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half. Shamiel Stevenson and Kobe Webster added 12 points apiece. Illinois was led by Cockburn who finished with a game-high 24 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field and an 8-of-10 effort from the line.
Last Time Out
Bryce McGowens' 17 points led three Huskers in double figures, but Nebraska was unable to slow down Rutgers in a 93-65 setback on Jan. 8. McGowens had a team-high 17 markers for the Huskers, while Derrick Walker Jr. finished with 12 points and six boards. C.J. Wilcher added 11 points off the bench for Nebraska, which shot 49 percent, but committed 14 turnovers which led to 25 Rutgers points.
Ron Harper Jr. led all scorers with 29 points on 8-of-13 shooting to pace five Rutgers players in double figures. In all, the Scarlet Knights shot 58 percent from the field, including 10-of-18 from 3-point range.
Nebraska got off to another good start and was in solid position before Rutgers took advantage of some Husker foul trouble late in the first half to key a decisive run. Nebraska was within 27-24 before Harper's 3-point play with 5:30 left in the half marked the turning point. Walker picked up his third foul on the play and joined Lat Mayen, who picked up his third foul on the previous possession, on the bench. Neither player played the rest of the first half, while Harper's basket started nine straight for the hosts, which extended the margin to 36-24. NU was within 42-31 after a Keisei Tominaga 3-pointer with 40 seconds left in the half, and forced a turnover to potentially trim the lead to single figures before the half, but a Husker turnover and a basket by Dean Reiber pushed the margin back to 13 at the break.
The Huskers got the ball inside to Walker in the opening minutes of the second half, as his second basket of the half cut the deficit to 46-35 with 17:39 left, but would get no closer. Rutgers answered with an 11-2 spurt of its own, including eight straight from Harper to build a 20-point lead at 57-37 with just over 15 minutes left. Nebraska would get to within 15 on three occasions, the least at 63-48, but could not cool down a Scarlet Knights attack that hit 10 of its first 14 shots after the break and shot 66 percent in the second half.
• Derrick Walker Jr. is one of only eight players nationally averaging double figures while shooting at least 70 percent from the field as of Jan. 9. Walker is shooting 74.7 percent from the field this season and has shot 50 percent or better in 12 of the last 13 games dating back to Nov. 19. The only game he didn't shoot 50 percent was against Michigan when he didn't take a field goal in a season-low 18 minutes of work.
Players with 10.0 PPG/70% shooting
|Wildens Leveque||South Carolina||.714||10.5|
|Precious Ayah||Miami (OH)||.737||10.3|
|Kris Bankston||Norfolk State||.756||11.3|
|Daniel Akin||Cal Baptist||.720||12.9|
• Alonzo Verge Jr. enters the week with 957 points at the college level and needs only 43 to reach 1,000 for his career. Verge has averaged 14.3 ppg in his two-plus seasons at the college level and had one 40-point game, a 43-point outburst against Saint Mary's in the 2019-20 season while at Arizona State. When he reaches 1,000 career points, Verge would be the fourth current Husker to reach that plateau, joining Kobe Webster, Trey McGowens and Trevor Lakes.
• Nebraska players have combined for eight double-doubles (Verge-4; Walker-3; B. McGowens-1) in 16 games this season after just having three in 2020-21. The last time NU had 10 double-doubles as a team in a season was 2007-08 (17). In all, NU has six players who have had at least one double-double in their respective careers (Trevor Lakes-2; Kobe Webster-1; Lat Mayen-1).
• Nebraska's 15 3-pointers against Kennesaw State on Dec. 22, were not only a season high, but marked just the sixth time since 1990 that Nebraska hit at least 15 3-pointers in a game. It was NU's highest total since Nov. 6, 2018.
• Nebraska is starting to find its shot from 3-point range, as the Huskers are 36-of-93 (.387) in the last four games dating back to Dec. 22. In the previous five games, NU shot just 21 percent from beyond the arc.
• Alonzo Verge Jr.'s 16-point, 12-assist performance against Kennesaw State on Dec. 22 marked the eighth points-assist double-double by a Husker in Fred Hoiberg's two-plus seasons at Nebraska (Cam Mack-4; Dalano Banton-1; Alonzo Verge Jr.-3). Over the previous 30 years (1989-90 to 2018-19), it occurred just five times. Verge is only the second Husker to have multiple points-assists double-doubles in the same season since 1990.
• Nebraska guard Bryce McGowens ranks second nationally among all true freshmen in scoring at 15.7 points per game as of Jan. 9. McGowens is one of only three true freshmen nationally averaging at least 15 points per game as of Jan. 9.
McGowens, who leads all Big Ten freshmen in scoring and is second in rebounding, is on pace to threaten NU's freshman single-season scoring mark (15.5, Joe McCray, 2004-05).
NCAA True Freshman Scoring Leaders (As of Jan. 9)
|1.||Paolo Banchero, Duke||17.3|
|2.||Bryce McGowens, Nebraska||15.7|
|3.||Jabari Smith, Auburn||15.5|
• Nebraska has produced a total of ten 20-point efforts this season (Bryce McGowens-4; Alonzo Verge Jr.-4; Kobe Webster-1; Keisei Tominaga-1). Last season, NU had just 12 20-point efforts in 27 contests. McGowens' four 20-point games this season already ranks fourth all-time among Husker freshmen and is the most by any NU freshman since Joe McCray had a school-record 10 in 2004-05.
• For most of the year, the Huskers have done a good job of limiting turnovers. Following the Rutgers game, Nebraska now ranks 53rd nationally in turnover rate after ranking 205th in that category last year. Fred Hoiberg's teams have traditionally been among the nation's best in that category. Prior to last season, his last three teams ranked in the top 30 nationally in that category.
• Alonzo Verge Jr. has become more of a playmaker during his time at NU. He is second in the Big Ten with 5.6 assists per game after averaging 2.9 assists per game during his two-year career at Arizona State. Verge has three games with 10+ assists as of Jan. 9, while the rest of the conference has combined for four. Verge's 5.6 assists per game ranks 23rd nationally as of Jan. 9.
• Bryce McGowens joined rare company on Nov. 12 against Sam Houston with his 29-point effort. It tied for the second-highest performance by a freshman in school history and was the most since Shavon Shields also had 29 at Penn State in 2013.
• Nebraska has been opportunistic on the defensive end, forcing a Big Ten high 16.1 turnovers per game as of Jan. 9. NU leads the Big Ten in steals (8.2 spg) and ranks fourth in turnover margin (+3.4 per game). NU has 10-or-more steals five times, including three of the past five contests. Alonzo Verge Jr. is fourth in the conference in steals with 1.6 per game, as he is one of three starters averaging at least a steal per game. NU looks to regain the services of Trey McGowens later this month, as the junior was fifth in the Big Ten in steals per game in 2020-21, but has been out since Nov. 16 with a broken bone in his foot.
• Nebraska added a player over the break as Denim Dawson enrolled for the start of the spring semester. Dawson, a 6-foot-6 wing who attended Southern California Academy as a postgrad. He played at Orange Lutheran in 2020-21, averaging 16 points and five rebounds per game as the school reached the California Division 2AA CIF-SS quarterfinals last spring. Dawson, who started practicing on Dec. 29, is expected to redshirt this season.
• Nebraska's 2021-22 roster features a trio of college graduates in Derrick Walker, Alonzo Verge Jr. and Kobe Webster. Walker became the first member of his family to get a degree when he graduated in May of 2021, while Webster (2020, Western Illinois) and Verge (2021, Arizona State) came to Nebraska as graduate transfers.
"Good things happen when we play through Derrick"
Fred Hoiberg understands the importance of having Derrick Walker on the floor for the Big Red, and Walker's play has been a focal point for the Huskers. Walker, who is in his third year at NU, has provided the Huskers a much-needed inside threat since becoming eligible last January.
Walker Making Big Jumps
|*-Includes Tennessee (2017-19) and Nebraska (2020-21)|
The 6-foot-9 center is enjoying his best year in 2021-22, averaging 10.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals per game while shooting nearly 75 percent from the field. He is seventh in the Big Ten in blocks per game and 19th in rebounds per game as of Jan. 9.
• Walker has played his best against NU's ranked opponents, averaging 13.7 points on 78 percent shooting, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game in three contests.
• He joins Iowa's Keegan Murray as the only two Big Ten players currently averaging more than 1.0 steals and blocks per game.
• He turned in a strong performance at No. 10 Michigan State on Jan. 5 with 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting to match his career high in points.
• Walker has been in double figures 10 times in NU's last 13 games, and he tied or set a career best in scoring in three straight games, including 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting against Tennessee State on Nov. 23.
• He matched a school record with 15 consecutive made field goals from Nov. 21 to Nov. 27.
• Walker has three double-doubles since Dec. 1 including 12 points and 13 rebounds in a career-high 50 minutes in the four OT loss at NC State. In the loss at No. 18 Auburn, he had 10 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals. Walker's most recent double double came against No. 13 Ohio State on Jan. 2 when he had 15 points, 10 rebounds and four steals against the Buckeyes.
Super McGowens Brothers
The high-flying duo of Trey and Bryce McGowens will be sidelined for a bit, as Trey recovers from a broken foot suffered against Creighton on Nov. 16, but is expected back in the coming weeks. The 2021-22 season marked the first time the brothers were on the same court together since they were kids and provided a number of early highlights.
• Bryce is 13th in the Big Ten in scoring at 15.7 ppg while grabbing 5.5 rebounds per game as of Jan. 9. He ranks among the B1G leaders in scoring, free throw percentage and minutes played.
• A three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week (Nov. 15, Nov. 29, Dec. 20), he leads all conference rookies in scoring and is second in rebounding.
• He is the only Husker freshmen in either the Big 12 (1996-97 to 2010-11) or Big Ten (2011-12 to present) eras to be a three-time honoree as a freshman.
• McGowens has reached double figures in scoring 12 times, including four 20-point efforts. His most recent 20-point game was a 24-point, nine-rebound effort in the 4OT loss at NC State on Dec. 1. McGowens has been in double figures in each of the last six games dating back to Dec. 11.
• He collected his first career double-double on Nov. 21 against Southern with 18 points and 11 rebounds. McGowens also had four assists and two steals in 31 minutes.
• He is just the second Husker freshman to ever put up multiple 25-point games, as he had 25 in the opener against Western Illinois and 29 in the win over Sam Houston. He joins Dave Hoppen, who accomplished the feat during the 1982-83 season (27 vs. K-State; 25 vs. Iowa State).
• As a high schooler, he totaled 2,341 points, including 285 3-pointers and was selected for the 2021 Iverson Classic. He was also selected to the Jordan Brand Classic, but the event was not held.
• Last season, he was the Gatorade South Carolina Player of the Year, averaging 21.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per contest for Legacy Early College and Coach BJ Jackson.
• Trey has been a proven performer throughout his career, as he has started 94 of 96 games at the college level for Pittsburgh and Nebraska and scored over 1,000 career points.
• Trey started the first three games and was averaging 6.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game before suffering his injury midway through the first half against Creighton on Nov. 16. McGowens also drew the opponent's top perimeter defender and shared point guard duties. He helped limit Sam Houston's Demarkus Lampley, a returning first-team all-conference performer, to 2-of-14 shooting on Nov. 12.
• Last season, Trey averaged 10.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assist per game, while starting all 27 games. He reached double figures 17 times in 2020-21, including a season-high 20 points against No. 17 Michigan State.
• The McGowens brothers are one of 15 brother combos on the same college roster this season.
Zo Takes the Point
Alonzo Verge took over the point guard duties from 2021 NBA Draft pick Dalano Banton, and Verge has provided an immediate impact, averaging 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. The 6-foot-4 guard from Chicago ranks in the top five of the Big Ten in both assists (second) and steals (fourth) as of Jan. 9.
• He has a 1.58-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio after posting a 1.29-to-1 ratio in his two seasons at Arizona State.
• His 5.62 assists per game would rank fifth in school history, while only four players in school history have averaged at least 5.00 assists in a season.
• Verge is sixth in the Big Ten with four double-doubles (vs. W. Illinois, vs. Tennessee State, at NC State and Kennesaw State).
• He collected his fourth double-double of the year with 16 points and a career-high 12 assists in the win over Kennesaw State on Dec. 22
• He had his fourth 20-point effort of the season with 21 points, five assists, five rebounds and four steals in the loss to Kansas State on Dec. 19.
• Verge posted his second career 30-point game against Michigan on Dec. 7, as he had 31 points and eight boards. It was his first 30-point game since the 2019-20 season when he was at Arizona State.
• Verge nearly had a triple-double in the Huskers' epic game at NC State on Dec. 1 with 25 points, a career-high 11 assists and nine rebounds before fouling out in the fourth OT.
• He led NU with 18 points and 10 assists in the Huskers' win over Tennessee State on Nov. 23.
• He posted his first collegiate double-double in the opener with 26 points - the most points ever in a Husker debut - a career-high 13 rebounds and five assists.
• Verge was a combo guard during his two seasons at Arizona State, where he teamed with current Kansas guard Remy Martin in one of the highest scoring backcourts in the Pac-12.
• He averaged 14.0 points, 3.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game in 2020-21, ranking among the Pac-12 leaders in scoring (15th), assists (seventh), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.55-to-1, sixth), steals (1.2, 13th) and free throw percentage (.809, 13th).
• In his first season at ASU, he was the 2020 Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year and an honorable-mention all-conference pick after averaging 14.6 points per game, 3.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
• A two-time NJCAA All-American at Moberly Area (Ill.) CC, he ranked in the top three nationally in both scoring and assists in 2018-19. He tallied 1,086 points (30.9 ppg in 35 games), but also dished out 8.2 assists per game en route to first-team accolades.
Keisei for 3
The addition of Keisei Tominaga has helped the Huskers' 3-point shooting. The 6-foot-2 guard is fourth on the team in scoring at 7.9 points per game while connecting on a team-high 29 3-pointers entering the Illinois game. He has also committed just six turnovers in 338 minutes this season.
Tominaga started slowly as he had just three points in his first three games, but is averaging 9.5 points per game on 40 percent shooting in NU's last 13 games dating back to Nov. 19. He has six double-figure games in that stretch, including a career-high 23 points against South Dakota on Nov. 27 and 18 points in the win over Kennesaw State on Dec. 22.
Last summer, Tominaga represented Japan in 3x3 basketball in the Tokyo Olympics, helping Japan reach the medal round. He finished third among all players in scoring (6.9 ppg), fourth in 1-point shooting (74 percent) and seventh in 2-point shooting (36 percent). He was one of only two active NCAA players to play in the Olympics, joining Virginia's Francisco Caffaro, who played for Argentina in men's basketball.
Four OT Thriller at NC State
Nebraska's four-overtime game at NC State on Dec. 1, was one for the record books. The four OT game matched Nebraska's school record set in 1979 and was the longest Big Ten game in at least a decade. It tied for the second-longest Division I game in the past 10 seasons, trailing only a five OT game between Louisville and Notre Dame on Feb. 9. 2013.
• It was the longest game in Big Ten/ACC Challenge history, but was one of three OT games in the 2021 challenge. The Big Ten won the challenge, 8-6, with three of the six losses coming in overtime.
• It marked only the eighth time in school history where both teams scored over 100 points.
• The 100 points NU scored marked the 44th 100-point game in school history, but only the fifth time that NU scored 100 points and lost.
• Nebraska had a pair of double-doubles from Alonzo Verge (25 points/11 assists) and Derrick Walker (12 points, 13 rebounds). Verge (assists) and Walker (rebounds) both set personal bests on their way to double-doubles.
Husker Injury Update
Fred Hoiberg announced Dec. 22 that freshman forward Wilhelm Breidenbach underwent season-ending leg surgery for an injury suffered in Nebraska's game against Michigan on Dec. 7. Breidenbach, a 6-foot-10, 227-pound forward from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., had played in each of Nebraska's first 10 games, averaging 3.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game.
Breidenbach joins starting guard Trey McGowens, who underwent surgery on Nov. 17 to repair a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot. He is expected back in mid-January. McGowens had started all 30 games since transferring to Nebraska prior to the 2020-21 campaign. He ranked second on the team in both scoring (10.7 ppg) and assists (2.3 apg) in 2020-21.