The Illinois Fighting Illini will play the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday.
The Fighting Illini are coming off a loss to the #7 Michigan Wolverines in their last game. The Illini led the Wolerines going into halftime. However, Trey Burke exploded for Michigan as they were able to beat Illinois, 71-58. The Fighting Illini really let Michigan get away with that game.
Saturday’s game will be the second meeting between Illinois and Nebraska. In their first meeting, the Fighting Illini defeated the Cornhuskers, 71-51. D.J. Richardson had an amazing game for Illinois. He scored a team-high 30 points and went 6-of-9 from three-point land. Nnanna Egwu also led the Illini with a total ten rebounds in the game.
The Cornhuskers come into Saturday’s game with an overall record of 13-15 and a Big Ten record of 4-11. Just like Illinois, Nebraska is coming into Saturday after losing to a ranked conference opponent in their last game. They lost to the #17 Wisconsin Badgers, 46-77.
Nebraska comes into the game against Illinois with the worst scoring offense in the Big Ten. They are averaging 58.5 points per game, but still have three players that are good scorers.
The leading scorers for Nebraska are Dylan Talley, Ray Gallegos, and Brandon Ubel. All three of these players are averaging double-digits this season.
Talley leads the team with 14.2 points per game this season. Gallegos and Ubel are second and third on the team with 12.3 and 11.3 points per game respectively.
During the first meeting against the Illini, only Talley (16 points) and Ubel (10 points) scored in double-figures.
The Cornhuskers are also near the bottom of the Big Ten in rebounding. They are 11th in the conference with 32.1 rebounds per game this season.
Ubel leads the team in rebounding so far this season. He is averaging a total of 6.8 rebounds per game this season.
This will be 13th meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Cornhuskers. Illinois leads the series 9-3.
Saturday’s game has two special meaning for the Illinois Fghting Illini.
First, the home game against Nebraska will be Senior Night at Assembly Hall. Illinois will honor five seniors before the game. These seniors are Kevin Berardini, Tyler Griffey, Sam McLaurin, Brandon Paul, and D.J. Richardson.
Second, Saturday’s game will be the 50th anniversary to the day of Assembly Hall. The game is exactly 50 years from when the doors first opened to the $8.35 million architectural marvel on March 2, 1963. The Fighting Illini will celebrate the anniversary by each fan will receiving a commemorative 50th Anniversary ticket when entering the arena, showing a video of Illini greats and entertainers who have performed at The Hall through the years, and showing another video of the proposed Assembly Hall renovation project that will be debuted.
There is no doubt that the game against Nebraska will be filled with emotions. Anytime you get a basketball team with five senior on it, there will be tears shed on Senior Night.
Even though it is Senior Night, the Illini still need to control their emotions and play smart on Saturday. Head coach John Groce mentioned during his press conference that the team took some days off physically this week and a full day off completely coming into this contest.
After coming into a game with this much “rest,” some teams might come out too relaxed on game day Do not expect this to happen to the Fighting Illini, but when the calendar flips over to March…anything can happen (just look at Penn State and Michigan).
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