Lincoln - Behind a career-high 30 points from D.J. Richardson, Illinois posted a 71-51 win over Nebraska in a physical Big Ten contest at the Bob Devaney Sports Center Tuesday night.
Richardson hit a career-high six three-pointers, while nearly doubling his previous season high of 16 points. The senior scored 20 of his 30 points in the second half, as Illinois (15-5, 2-4 Big Ten) snapped a three-game losing streak.
Despite his hot shooting, Nebraska (10-10. 1-6 Big Ten) was in position to make it a game down the stretch, cutting a 12-point halftime deficit to 51-44 with 8:11 left, but Richardson's 3-pointer highlighted a 7-0 Illini run that pushed the lead to 14, and NU was unable to cut the deficit back into single digits.
Nebraska was held without a field goal for the last eight minutes and shot just 31.8 percent from the field and just 2-of-14 from 3-point range. It was one of two extended field goal droughts to end the halves for the Huskers tonight.
Senior Dylan Talley led Nebraska with 16 points, while Brandon Ubel had 10 points and six rebounds in a losing effort. The Illini did a great job on Shavon Shields, who averaged 23.5 points in two games last week, holding the freshman to just two points before he fouled out.
Illinois raced off to an early 15-4 lead, but the Huskers clawed back, as three-point plays from Talley and Ray Gallegos keyed a 10-2 run to put Nebraska within 18-16 after a Ubel jumper. The Huskers were within 24-20 after a pair of Talley free throws with 6:03 left in the half, but Illinois took control with an 11-1 run to extend the lead to 35-21. The Illini controlled the boards in the first half, getting 12 offensive rebounds in building a 26-10 advantage on the glass in the half.
Ubel led the Huskers back early in the second half, scoring four straight points before an Andre Almeida free throw cut the lead to 37-30. Richardson would answer right back, hitting a 3-pointer and a jumper on consecutive possessions to push the lead back to 12.
The Huskers continued to fight back, using a 6-2 run to cut a 10-point deficit to 44-38 after an Almeida dunk with 13:09 left, but Brandon Paul would score five of his 14 points to make it an 11-point lead for Illinois.
The Huskers return home on Saturday when they take on Northwestern. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPNU. Tickets are available for as little as $10 by visiting Huskers.com or calling 800-8-BIGRED.