Feb 9, 2014; University Park, PA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach John Groce reacts from the bench during the first half against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Bryce Jordan Center. Illinois defeated Penn State 60-55. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball: Illinois vs. Nebraska Preview and Live Thread


The Illinois Fighting Illini basketball team has traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska and are set to clash with the Nebraska Cornhuskers tonight in the first of two meetings over the next 14 days. Illinois finally stopped their massive 8 game skid by upending Penn State, and while it wasn’t easy, the losing streak is now in the rear view mirror. So, where do we go from here? I think I’ll let Lou Brown sum up how I am feeling about the next stretch of games for our Illini.

“OK, we won a game yesterday. If we win today, it’s called “two in a row”. And if we win again tomorrow, it’s called a “winning streak”… It has happened before!” – Lou Brown, Major League II

Yeah, it’s been a while since we’ve seen multiple wins strung together in Illini nation, but just like Lou said, it has happened before. We all know this team is capable of reeling off several wins in a row. It has just been about finding the right mix of personnel on the floor at any given time, and HC John Groce finally decided it was time to make a change last game while giving Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill their first college starts.

Neither player disappointed, and both figure to return to the starting lineup tonight. The difference in tonight’s game will be that the Illini will not benefit from catching their opponent off guard. Nebraska now knows what to expect, and should be able to game plan for it accordingly. Will there be a repeat performance? Will the Illini win their first back to back Big Ten road games since 2009?

If they are going to do so, stopping Husker sophomore sensation Terran Petteway will be their first order of business. Petteway enters tonight’s game as Nebraska’s leading scorer (17.5 ppg), and aside from a 5 point outing on 2/5 against Michigan he has not scored less than 15 points in any game in Big Ten play. Petteway isn’t doing it alone, however.

Whereas Illinois has struggled at times to find consistent secondary scoring, Nebraska hasn’t recently, and it’s a big reason why the Huskers have only lost 1 game in Big Ten play (Michigan by 1 point) on their home court. They’ve reeled off 4 wins in their past 6 games, and they have 6’7″ sophomore Guard-Forward Shavon Shields and 6’10″ Forward Walter Pitchford to thank in addition to Petteway’s stellar play. Shields has hit double digits in 3 of his past 4 games, and Pitchford comes in hot, having reached double figures in each of the Huskers past 4 games.

The mission for Illinois is clear tonight: Lock down defensively on these three players while making sure a periphery shooter like Ray Gallegos doesn’t get hot from three just because someone forgets to guard him.

Three Things I’d like to see tonight:

1. A Repeat Performance from the Freshmen - They got their shot last game and came through. Now they need to replicate what made them successful and solidify their place in the starting lineup. It’s their time to shine. So, shine on!

2. Force Turnovers Through Hounding Defense - In the Huskers 4 point loss at Penn State on 1/23 they turned the ball over 14 times to the Nittany Lions 5. Many of those turnovers turned into points while PSU fought their way back from an 8 point second half deficit with 11:06 left to play. Get in their face and harass them all night long.

3. Ray Rice and Tracy Abrams Explode – While it’s nice having Nunn go for 19, and Hill also reach double digits I’d like to see those scoring performances be supplemental, and not necessarily team leading. I mean, I’ll take what I can get, but I want to see Rice and Abrams wake up offensively while still getting good production from the two freshman. If that happens, Illinois suddenly becomes a very dangerous team down the stretch run.

The Skinny

When: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 8 PM CST

Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena – Lincoln, NE

TV: BTN (Directv 610 / DISH Network 439)

Announcers: Cory Provus (Play by Play) and Shon Morris (Analyst)

Feel free to drop back in during the game and chat with me in the comments section below with any observations you may have!

I-L-L!

You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.

Tags: Featured Illinois Fighting Illini John Groce Kendrick Nunn Malcolm Hill Popular

  • Kale Livesay

    Tate is hearing me!

    • Aaron Rench

      It seems he has selective hearing.

  • Kale Livesay

    F and F

    • @RPKraemer

      LOL.

  • @RPKraemer

    55-49 Nebraska with 6 to play.

  • Kale Livesay

    Put Hill back in now please.

  • @RPKraemer

    C’mon Tracy. We need these FT’s.

  • Kale Livesay

    Arch Tracy arch.

  • @RPKraemer

    Golden opportunity wasted.

  • Kale Livesay

    Damn!

  • @RPKraemer

    55-50 Nebraska with 4:53 to go. Let’s go Illini!!

  • @RPKraemer

    Make that 57-50 with 4:34 to play. Shields has tied his career high according to the announcers.

  • Kale Livesay

    I don’t like the way this game is going.

  • @RPKraemer

    Shields has 29. Petteway has 15.

  • Kale Livesay

    It’s a given when playing the Illini someone always has their career best!

  • Kale Livesay

    Brutal

  • @RPKraemer

    3:44 to go. Still 57-50 Nebraska.

  • Kale Livesay

    Do we have a big run left in our tanks and can we stifle Shields and Petteway?

    • Aaron Rench

      It doesn’t feel like it. Shields is on fire and the Illini continue to miss shots that should be made.

      • @RPKraemer

        I agree with Aaron. They can’t afford to fall any further behind.

  • Kale Livesay

    Our possessions need to be spent quickly attacking the rim and make our free throws.

  • Kale Livesay

    Not what we need. Get Tate and Hill back in and attack.

  • Kale Livesay

    Easy way to put up big numbers is by making your free throws!

  • Kale Livesay

    We don’t need f’in 3′s.

  • Kale Livesay

    Right idea just didn’t finish.

  • Kale Livesay

    Press after made free throws.

  • @RPKraemer

    Inability to finish. So much for starting a winning streak tonight.

  • Kale Livesay

    Don’t look now Kraemer they are knocking on 65′s door.

    • @RPKraemer

      I told you. First one to 65 will win.

      • Kale Livesay

        Years ago that was the tell all for Illinois games. If we got to 65 first we won the majority of our games!

  • Kale Livesay

    Empty the bench put the freshman in!

    • @RPKraemer

      Put in LaTulip and let him launch 3s.

  • Kale Livesay

    Let’s call a timeout and draw up a play!

  • Kale Livesay

    Alex, I would like to buy a point guard and a back to the basket post player!

  • Kale Livesay

    Vowels just are getting it done these days.

  • @RPKraemer

    That’s a wrap folks. Nebraska wins this one 67-58. Thanks to all who stopped by, and a special thanks to those who commented.