Champaign, Ill. - Dylan Talley and Ray Gallegos combined for 43 points, but Illinois pulled away in the final five minutes to earn a 72-65 victory over Nebraska Saturday afternoon in Assembly Hall.
Gallegos led all players with 23 points, matching his career high with six 3-pointers to pace the Huskers while Talley turned in another strong performance with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in a losing effort for Nebraska (13-16, 4-12 Big Ten).
Nebraska led the back-and-forth contest 57-55 after a Shavon Shields basket with 6:07 left, but the Illini (21-9, 8-8 Big Ten) took control with a 7-0 spurt to regain the lead for good in a matchup which saw 10 ties and 13 lead changes.
Brandon Paul hit a jumper knot the game at 57 before D.J. Richardson drilled a corner three with 4:58 left to put the Illini ahead for good.
Nebraska kept hanging around and was within 64-62 after Gallegos' sixth 3-pointer of the night, but Paul's driving basket started a game-ending 9-3 surge. The Illini went 6-for-6 from the line in the final minute to hold off the Huskers' comeback bid, capping a 15-of-18 effort from the charity stripe on the day.
Tracy Abrams led five Illini in double figures with 16 points, including 6-of-6 from the line, while Paul and Richardson added 14 and 13 points, respectively for the winners.
Nebraska shot 46 percent from the field, including 9-of-18 from 3-point range, and held Illinois to 44 percent, including 9-of-26 from long range.
The Huskers played a solid first half, shooting 50 percent from the field and were tied before Abrams' long-distance 3-pointer on Illinois' final possession of the half gave the hosts a 35-32 lead. Nebraska controlled the tempo for most of the half and got major contributions from Gallegos and Talley, who had 11 points each before the break.
Richardson, who had a career-high 30 points in the first matchup, score five early points, but the Huskers used a 7-0 spurt to take a 9-5 lead after a David Rivers basket at the 17:00 mark. After a Brandon Ubel basket tied the score at 13, Illinois went on a 9-2 run to build a 22-15 left after an Abrams' 3-pointer. Nebraska came back with five straight points on a Gallegos' 3-pointer and a pair of Talley free throws to trim the lead to two points, at 22-20. The teams would be within one possession of each of ether for the rest of the half, before Abrams' shot to beat the buzzer gave the hosts a 3-point halftime lead.
Nebraska trailed 39-35 early in the second half after a long Paul jumper, but used a 5-1 run to tie the score on a Talley 3-pointer with 15:16 left. Talley scored seven straight Husker points, as his steal and bucket gave Nebraska a 44-42 lead. The teams traded the lead, as Gallegos put the Huskers ahead before a Talley basket with 11:19 left gave the visitors a four-point lead.
The lead would not last long, as a 3-pointer from Tyler Griffey and a Nnanna Egwu put-back put the Illini on top 50-49. Gallegos, as he did for most of the day, answered back with a 3-pointer to give NU a 52-50 lead. With 7:09 left, Paul's 3-pointer put the Illini ahead 55-53, but Nebraska answered back. Brandon Ubel's basket tied the score before Shields' driving bucket put NU head 57-55 for the final time.
The Huskers return to the Devaney Center for the final time this Wednesday, March 6, when they host the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. with a Huskers Legends autograph session set for 7 p.m. and Senior Night ceremonies for Andre Almeida, Dylan Talley and Brandon Ubel prior to the game. Tickets are set for $10 and $15 by visiting Huskers.com or calling 800-8-BIGRED.
*-Dylan Talley put together his seventh 20-point game of the season and third in the last four contests, as he scored 20 points, dished out five assists and grabbed five rebounds against Illinois. Over the last four contests, Talley is averaging 21.8 points per game on 46 percent shooting from the floor, including 45 percent from 3-point range.
*-Talley's five assists were one off his career high of six set at Penn State on Jan. 19, while he played a career-high 40 minutes.
*-Ray Gallegos posted his fifth 20-point effort of the season with a game-high 23 points. The effort was his second-highest output of his career, trailing only the 30-point night at Minnesota on Jan. 29.
*- Gallegos matched his career high with six 3-pointers against Illinois. He also had six 3-pointers against USC (Dec. 3) and at Minnesota (Jan. 29). He has had seven games this season with at least four 3-pointers.
*-With his six 3-pointers today, he upped his season total to 72 and moved into fifth place on Nebraska's single-season list. Gallegos passed Jaron Boone, who had 70 3-pointers in 1994-95, with his effort today. Among Husker juniors, only Cary Cochran (78, 2000-01) and Tyronn Lue (78, 1997-98) have hit more 3-pointers in a season.
*-Saturday marked only the second time this season that Nebraska out-shot an opponent and lost (also at Minnesota on Jan. 29).