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January 22, 2013

Hoops Gameday: Nebraska vs. Illinois

Nebraska Cornhuskers

vs. Illinois Fighting Illini
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2012 - 7:30 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network / RADIO: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network

Illinois (14-5, 1-4 Big Ten)
Streak: Lost 3
Last Game: Lost to Northwestern 68-54
G Tracy Abrams (averaging 11.9 points and team-high 3.2 assists per game) So. 6-1 185
G D.J. Richardson (scoring 10.8 ppg and 4.5 rebounds per game) Sr. 6-3 195
G Brandon Paul (second in Big Ten with 18.2 ppg) Sr. 6-4 200
F Sam McLaurin (averaging 3.7 ppg and 3.5 rpg) Sr. 6-8 220
F/C Nnanna Egwu (scoring 6.2 ppg with 4.3 rpg) So. 6-11 235

Nebraska CornhuskersNebraska Cornhuskers (10-9, 1-5 Big Ten)
Streak: Won 1
Last Game: Defeated Penn State 68-64
G Dylan Talley (has a 6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio the last 4 games) Sr. 6-5 216
G Ray Gallegos (ranks 4th in Big Ten with 2.4 3-pointers per game) Jr. 6-2 181
G/F Shavon Shields (named Big Ten Freshman of the Week last week) Fr. 6-6 215
F David Rivers (averaging 9.0 ppg in first three career starts) So. 6-7 191
C Andre Almeida (averaging 5.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, and 1.2 blocks per game) Sr. 6-11 314

Limit transition

With the number of athletes Illinois has across its roster and also the limited size it has in the post, the Fighting Illini love to get out and run at any chance they can get. That obvious does not suit Nebraska's style of play at all, as the Huskers are built to control the tempo and work out of the half-court offense. In order to keep the game at a manageable pace and not let Illinois get on a run with some fast breaks, NU needs to limit turnovers, win the glass on both ends and convert when it has the ball.
Defend the 3

During the early portion of the season, when Illinois was off to a ridiculously hot start and was ranked as high as No. 10 nationally, a huge portion of its success was due to its 3-point shooting. In the Fighting Illini's recent losing skid and 1-4 start to Big Ten play, though, they've been ice cold from beyond the arc. Illinois is just 8-of-58 on 3-pointers over its last three games, all resulting in losses. For Nebraska to keep from being the team that lets the Illini find their rhythm from downtown again, it has to guard the perimeter and not allow any uncontested looks.
Keep Shields going

Freshman guard Shavon Shields has helped breathe a new life into Nebraska's offense the past three games, and now he has the hardware to show for it. After averaging 23.5 points on 72 percent shooting, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals last week, Shields was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week. Not only did he lead the Huskers with 18 and 27 points in those games, he also was the sparkplug in guiding them to their first conference win of the season at Penn State. Needless to say, NU needs to find a way to keep his hot streak going as long as possible, because with him producing at that level, it opens things up for every other Husker on the floor with him.

Head coach Tim Miles on playing back-to-back road games this week for the first time in over a month:

"Well with the way we've played on the road, I don't mind going mind going on the road! We've performed alright. I don't know. I think anybody likes playing at home. We're excited to be at home. Hopefully we can get a big crowd each game to cheer us along, and we find a way to get some wins."
Senior forward Brandon Ubel on what NU can take away from last year's 80-57 romp of Illinois in Lincoln:

"That was definitely a fun game, but this is a different team this year, for both of us. Obviously we both have new coaches, new styles, a few new players. So it's going to be different. But yeah, that was a pretty fun game last year."

Illinois 61-60

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