Photo Credit: Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications Photo Credit: Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Travel to Illinois Tuesday Night

Photo Credit: Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications Photo Credit: Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

The Nebraska men's basketball team concludes a whirlwind month of travel on Tuesday, as the Huskers take on the Illinois Fighting Illini. Tipoff from the State Farm Center in Champaign is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be carried on BTN. It will also be available on the Fox Sports app.

The Huskers have spent a good portion of January on the road, as Tuesday's game at Illinois will be NU's sixth Big Ten road game this month and wraps up a five-day road trip for the Huskers, who played at Maryland on Saturday and went straight to Champaign.  The only other Big Ten team that played six road games in January was Ohio State, which did not play a conference road game during the December window. The schedule flips in February, as Nebraska will play five of seven games at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Game 23: at Illinois
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 31
Tipoff:  6 p.m. (CT) 
Location: Champaign, Ill.
Arena: State Farm Center

On the Air
Radio: Tuesday's game will be carried on the Huskers Radio Network with Kent Pavelka and Jake Muhleisen on the call, including KLIN (1400 AM) in Lincoln, KXSP (590 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington and will also be available on and the Huskers app. The pregame show begins an hour before tipoff.

TV/Online: Tuesday's game will be televised on BTN with Dave Revsine and Stephen Bardo on the call. The game will also be available online on the Fox Sports app.

The Huskers (10-12, 3-8 Big Ten) look to snap a three-game losing streak after an 82-63 loss at Maryland on Sunday. NU put together one of its best shooting days of the season, hitting 53 percent against a Maryland defense which was holding opponents to 41 percent shooting all season. Nebraska was within 59-50 with nine minutes remaining before a technical foul ignited Maryland's decisive 15-2 spurt to pull away. 

While Derrick Walker continued to put up solid numbers with 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting and eight rebounds, it was another freshmen who enjoyed career night at Maryland. Sam Hoiberg, who had played just 12 minutes all season entering last week, shined against the Terrapins with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-3 shooting from 3-point range. Over the last two games, Hoiberg has played 44 minutes and is averaging 10.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. 

Illinois (15-6, 6-4 Big Ten) comes into Tuesday's game winners of six of its last seven games following a 61-51 win at Wisconsin on Saturday. Matthew Meyer led all scorers with 26 points, including five 3-pointers, and six rebounds while Jayden Epps added 13 points. Illinois led just 20-16 at the break, but shot 54 percent from the field in the second half to move within one half game of second place in the Big Ten race. 

Numbers to Know
48.3 - Nebraska has been a more efficient offense in recent games, shooting 48.3 percent over the last three games, including 53.3 percent in Saturday's loss at Maryland.

8,138 - Miles that Nebraska basketball has traveled in January. Nebraska will play its 10th road game of the season on Tuesday. As of Jan. 30, no power conference team has played more road games than the Huskers (DePaul also has nine).

8- Prior to Saturday's loss at Maryland, Nebraska was 6-0 this season when shooting at least 50 percent and had won eight straight games when shooting 50 percent or better dating back to last season.

2 - Nebraska's Sam Griesel is one of only two Big Ten players - and 19 players across all of Division I as of Jan. 30 - averaging at least 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. He joins Penn State's Jalen Pickett among Big Ten players to achieve the combined numbers.

Worth Noting
• A win on Tuesday at Illinois would allow the Huskers to exceed their win total from last season and match Nebraska's number of Big Ten wins from a year ago. It would also give Nebraska Head Coach Fred Hoiberg his 150th collegiate victory. 

• Sixth-year senior Derrick Walker is the only Husker who played in Nebraska's last trip to Illinois in 2021.

• Nebraska now has a pair of freshmen in the starting lineup in Jamarques Lawrence and Denim Dawson. When the duo started against Northwestern on Jan. 25, it marked the first time NU has had a pair of freshmen in the starting lineup this season. Last year, NU had six games with multiple freshmen in the lineup (Bryce McGowens and either Keon Edwards or C.J. Wilcher). Both Edwards and Wilcher were second-year freshmen who took advantage of the NCAA eligibility freeze because of COVID-19 in 2020-21. In Fred Hoiberg's first season, NU started multiple freshmen on four occasions (Penn State, at Michigan, at Minnesota, vs. Indiana).

• Nebraska's freshmen accounted for 40 percent of the team's minutes at Maryland and 38.4 percent of the team's minutes over the last two contests. 

• With his 15-point effort at Maryland on Saturday, Sam Hoiberg became the 10th different Husker to score in double figures.  Hoiberg set season bests in points (15), 3-pointers (three) and minutes (26). 

• Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, the Huskers have had 21 freshmen (true, redshirt or covid year) start at least one game, and Jarmarques Lawrence became just the second Husker to reach double figures in his first start with 12 points against Northwestern. He joined Bryce McGowens (25 vs. Western Illinois, 2021) as the only two freshmen to score double figures in their first career start since 2011-12. 

• Nebraska is down to nine active scholarship players with season-ending injuries to Juwan Gary (shoulder), Emmanuel Bandoumel (knee) and Quaran McPherson (knee) while freshman Ramel Lloyd Jr. is redshirting. In addition, Blaise Keita has played just eight minutes since suffering an ankle injury against Queens on Dec. 20.

• Nebraska has faced one of the nation's toughest schedules in 2022-23. As of Jan. 30, Nebraska's NET strength of schedule is second nationally.  Michigan State (fourth), Ohio State (ninth) and Wisconsin (10th) give the Big Ten four teams in the top 10 nationally in strength of schedule in the NET.

• Nebraska's game at Illinois will be the Huskers' 12th Quad 1 game of the season. Of Nebraska's nine remaining regular-season games, eight would be against current Quad 1 or 2 opponents.  

• Nebraska entered the Maryland game 10th nationally in fewest fouls per game (13.6), but its 18 fouls at Maryland helped put the Terrapins on the foul line 26 times. Maryland converted by going 24-of-26 at the charity stripe. According to CBB Reference, it marked just the fourth time in the last four seasons that a Big Ten team shot 92 percent on at least 25 free throws.

• Derrick Walker is averaging a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game to rank 10th in the Big Ten in rebounding as of Jan. 30. It is on pace to be NU's highest rebounding average since the 2007-08 season. Since 2000, only five Huskers - Ed Morrow Jr. (2016-17), Aleks Maric (2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08), Andrew Drevo (2002-03), Kimani Ffriend (1999-2000, 2000-01) - have averaged at least seven rebounds per game.  

• Juwan Gary's injury in the first meeting against Illinois has hampered the Huskers' rebounding efforts. In Big Ten play, NU is 3-0 when out-rebounding opponents, but winless in conference play when being out-rebounded. NU had a +2.5 rebounding margin in the 17 games that Gary was in the lineup and the Huskers were on track for its first positive rebounding margin since the 2016-17 season. Since then, NU has been out-rebounded by 7.6 rebounds per game.  

• Derrick Walker is one of only two Big Ten players this year to have a game of at least 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as he did against Minnesota on Jan. 7.  Jalen Pickett has done it twice (vs. Quinnipiac on Dec. 22 and Jan. 8 vs. Purdue). Over the last three seasons (2020-21 to 2022-23), it has happened just six times, including twice by Husker players.

• Nebraska has been the one team to keep Zach Edey in check in 2022-23, holding the national player of the year frontrunner to just 11.5 points per game in two contests. Edey's two lowest scoring percentages came in the two games against Nebraska. 

• Nebraska's 63-53 win at No. 7 Creighton on Dec. 4 marked the program's fourth-ever road win over a top-10 team and marked the Huskers' first win at Creighton since the 2004 NIT. The No. 7 Bluejays were the highest ranked opponent that NU beat on the road since 1997.

• Nebraska's win over Ohio State on Jan. 18 marked the Huskers' first win over the Buckeyes in Lincoln since the 2014 campaign and marked the first time NU had beaten the Buckeyes in consecutive games. 

• The Huskers broke a couple of overtime losing streaks in the win at Minnesota on Jan. 7. The win snapped a six-game losing streak in overtime games dating back to the 2019-20 season and marked NU's first road OT win in conference play since Feb. 17, 2001. 
About Illinois
Brad Underwood is in his sixth year at Illinois after previous coaching stops at Oklahoma State and Stephen F. Austin. Illinois went 23-10 and won a share of the Big Ten regular-season title last year, winning on the final day of the season with a win over Iowa and Nebraska's victory at Wisconsin the same day. 

The Illini roster has been retooled from a season ago as Illinois replaced all five starters - including multi-year standouts Kofi Cockburn and Trent Frazier - and six of its top scorers from last season. Illinois won six of its first seven games, including a win over UCLA before hitting a rough patch in December. Since opening Big Ten play with an 0-3 mark, Illinois is 6-1 with the only loss coming to Indiana.  

The Illini have a Big 12 feel, as three of its top scorers are all transfers from Big 12 programs. Terrence Shannon leads Illinois in scoring at 17.4 points per game while Baylor transfers Matthew Meyer (11.3) and Dain Dainja (10.9) both average double figures. In all, five players average at least 9.5 points per game. Illinois is active defensively, holding opponents to under 40 percent shooting and leads the conference in blocked shots (6.0 bpg) and is third in steals (7.1 spg). 

Series History: Illinois leads the all-time series, 20-8, over Nebraska in a series that dates back to 1921. Nebraska is 6-13 against Illinois since joining the Big Ten, and the Illini have won six straight meetings. Nebraska has won once in Champaign since joining the Big Ten, a 76-67 win on Jan. 16, 2016. Prior to Nebraska joining the conference in 2011-12, the Huskers and Illini had played only once since 1976 - a 100-73 Husker victory in the 1990 San Juan Shootout.

Last meeting: Sam Griesel and Wilhelm Breidenbach combined for 23 points, but Illinois used a pair of big second-half runs to post a 76-50 victory at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Jan. 10.
Terrence Shannon Jr. led five Illinois players in double figures as he finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds. The Fighting Illini shot 45.9 percent from the field and held Nebraska to 37 percent shooting. The Huskers pulled within 34-29 after opening the second half with a 6-0 run before the Illini used a 21-5 spurt to seize control and build a 55-35 lead.

Nebraska made one last run behind Breidenbach, who scored eight straight points to get NU with 55-45 with 9:09 left. The Huskers eventually pulled to within 59-49 as Derrick Walker's 3-point play with 6:20 remaining capped NU's 14-4 run. Illinois answered as a RJ Melendez putback and a steal and dunk from Shannon pushed the margin back to 14, and NU was unable to slice into the deficit.

Last Time Out
Nebraska put together its best shooting night in Big Ten play this season, but Maryland was nearly perfect from the free throw line in an 82-63 win over Nebraska Saturday afternoon. 

The Huskers shot 53 percent from the field, its best shooting night since Nov. 30, and got strong performances in Derrick Walker and Sam Hoiberg in a losing effort. 

Walker finished with a team-high 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting and eight rebounds, while Hoiberg posted a career-high 15 points, eclipsing his entire season total entering the contest. Hoiberg went 6-of-8 from the field, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range, and kept the Huskers within striking distance until Maryland took control with a 12-2 run after NU pulled to within 59-50 after Wilhelm
Breidenbach's 3-pointer with just over nine minutes remaining. 

Maryland was held to 44 percent shooting but went 24-of-26 from the foul line and turned 15 Nebraska turnovers into 20 points. Jamhir Young led the hosts with 18 points, including 9-of-9 from the charity stripe, while Donald Carey chipped in 16 points, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range. 

Making Strides On Defense
Nebraska has made significant improvement on the defensive end this season, which is a big reason why the Huskers have already matched their 2021-22 win total. 

  • Nebraska has climbed from No. 178 to No. 57 nationally in defensive efficiency in KenPom. NU was 35th in defensive efficiency entering the Penn State game when Emmanuel Bandoumel suffered his season-ending injury.
  • The jump is more impressive when you consider that Nebraska has played 11 games against teams currently in the top-50 nationally in offensive efficiency as of Jan. 30.
  • Nebraska is one of only six teams nationally allowing at least 10 points less than last season, as NU's 10.1 ppg decrease is tied for fifth nationally.
  • Nebraska has held 11 opponents to 1.0 point per possession or less. 
  • The Huskers held Ohio State to a season-low 60 points in NU's 63-60 win on Jan. 18.
  • In the overtime loss to No. 4 Purdue on Dec. 10, Nebraska held the Boilermakers to 0.99 points per possession. Purdue is fourth nationally in offensive efficiency as of Jan. 30 (119.4)
  • Nebraska held Iowa, which is currently seventh in offensive efficiency to 0.76 per possession and just 26 percent shooting on Dec. 29.
  • In NU's win at No. 7 Creighton on Dec. 4, the Huskers limited the Bluejays to 0.73 points per possession, the Huskers' best performance in a road game in over a decade. 

Gary, Bandoumel to Miss Remainder of 2022-23 season
The last two weeks have been tough on the injury front, as NU has two starters to season-ending injuries. 

  • On Jan. 18, it was announced that Juwan Gary will have left shoulder surgery. Gary had started NU's first 17 games before suffering the injury against Illinois on Jan. 10. He was averaging 9.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and a team-high 1.4 steals per game.  He ranked in the top 15 in the Big Ten in steals (seventh) and rebounding (15th) at the time of his injury and totaled nine double-figure games. He had a season-high 18 points in Nebraska's win at Minnesota on Jan. 7, and has three games with 10+ rebounds, most recently at Kansas State on Dec. 17. 
  • Senior guard Emmanuel Bandoumel joined Gary on the sideline, as he suffered a knee injury in the first half of Nebraska's game at Penn State on Jan. 21. Bandoumel was the only Husker to start all 20 games and was averaging 8.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He was second on the team in minutes per game (31.1) and ranked third on the team in both assists and steals. He totaled nine double figure games this season, including 18 points apiece against Memphis and Omaha.
  • Entering the Illinois game, NU players have missed a combined 42 games this season:  Quaran McPherson (22); Derrick Walker (5); Blaise Keita (6); Juwan Gary (5), Sam Griesel (2) and Emmanuel Bandoumel (2)

Hometown Kid Making Good
Sam Griesel has enjoyed quite the homecoming, averaging 10.9 points, 4.2 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game from his point guard spot. Griesel spent the last four seasons at North Dakota State, earning All-Summit League honors in 2021 and 2022 before returning to Lincoln for his senior year. 

  • He ranks in the top 10 in both steals and assists as well as assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7-to-1). 
  • Griesel has 11 double-figure games this season, including seven straight games from Dec. 20 to Jan. 21.
  • He has been active on the defensive end in recent games, totaling 10 steals in the last three contests, including a career-high five at Penn State on Jan. 21.
  • The senior came up big in the win at Minnesota with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists, while going 6-of-6 from the foul line.
  • Griesel collected his second double-double in the win over Iowa with 12 points and team highs in rebounds (10) and assists (five).
  • The Huskers' first scholarship recruit from Lincoln since Jake Muhleisen in the early 2000s, Griesel keyed NU's win at No. 7 Creighton with 18 points, a season-high 12 rebounds and seven assists. 
  • Against Maine, Griesel scored a season-high 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds while also chipping in 18 points in the win over Omaha. 
  • Griesel's 22-point effort against Maine in the season opener was one of the highest-scoring debuts by a Husker in the last 50 seasons. 

Walker Puts Together Strong Senior Season
Derrick Walker has made a significant impact on the Huskers since returning to action on Nov. 25. Walker has been a force, averaging 13.6 points on 60 percent shooting, 7.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.  The 6-foot-9 senior forward was NU's only returning starter entering 2022-23 and has 13 double-figure efforts in 17 contests after leading NU with 16 points and eight rebounds at Maryland. 

  • He is one of just 14 players nationally averaging at least 13 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game as of Jan. 30.
  • Walker ranks among the Big Ten leaders in field goal percentage (second), rebounding (10th), assists (12th) and scoring (15th) entering Tuesday's game at Illinois. 
  • Walker has a team-high three double-doubles (Memphis, Florida State and No. 4 Purdue) and six for his career. 
  • He had his fourth career 20-point game at Penn State on Jan. 21 with 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting, six rebounds and six assists. 
  • Walker had a strong performance at No. 3 Purdue with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists, while helping limit Zach Edey to 12 points on seven shots.
  • Walker had one of the finest games of his career in NU's OT win at Minnesota on Jan. 7 with 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. He set or tied personal bests in both points and assists.
  • His most recent double-double was a 14-point, 10-rebound effort against No. 4 Purdue on Dec. 10.  He also helped limit Zach Edey to a season-low 11 points, snapping his streak of eight straight 20-point games. 
  • He keyed NU's win over No. 7 Creighton with a career-high 22 points on 11-of-16 shooting and eight rebounds against Ryan Kalkbrenner, the reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Walker's efforts helped NU enjoy a 46-16 advantage in points in the paint. 
  • Walker posted his first career 20-point game in a win over Florida State on Nov. 27, with 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting and matched his career high with 13 rebounds. 
  • He made his 2022-23 debut against Memphis and had 15 points and 12 boards in a loss to the Tigers. 
  • Walker averaged 9.5 ppg and 6.0 rpg in 2022, breaking NU's single-season field goal percentage mark by shooting 68.3 percent from the field.

Tominaga Moves into Starting Role
After being the Huskers' sixth man for most of the season, junior Keisei Tominaga moved into the starting lineup against Ohio State on Jan. 18. The 6-foot-2 guard is third on the team in scoring at 10.3 points per game while averaging 21 minutes per contest. 

  • Tominaga leads the Huskers in both 3-pointers (35) and 3-point percentage (.365).
  • He has 12 double figure games and was among the Big Ten's leaders in bench scoring before he was inserted in the lineup.
  • Tominaga posted his second 20-point game of the year against Northwestern, finishing with 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He scored NU's first 12 points and had 15 first-half points against the Wildcats. 
  • He had 13 points at Penn State on Jan. 21 and has reached double figures in four of his five starts this year.
  • Tominaga posted a 16-point effort at No. 3 Purdue on Jan. 13, hitting 5-of-8 shots from the field, including four 3-pointers. 
  • He enjoyed one of his best efforts of the year in NU's 65-62 loss to No. 4 Purdue on Dec. 10 with 19 points, including four 3-pointers. He sent the game to OT with a 3-pointer with 9.1 seconds left in regulation. 
  • Of Tominaga's 19 career double-figure games at Nebraska, 12 have come off the bench, including 23-point efforts against Boston College on Nov. 29 and against South Dakota last season.
  • Tominaga shined in NU's win over Boston College on Nov. 30. He tied his career high of 23 points on just eight field goal attempts (7-8 FG, 4-5 3PT; 5-5 FT) for his second career 20-point game. He had 17 of his 23 markers in the first half, including 11 straight NU points.
  • Tominaga also had a team-high 15 points at St. John's and a 19-point effort against Maine. In the game against Maine, he connected on 7-of-12 shots from the field in 20 minutes of work.
  • Over the summer, Tominaga was with the Japanese National Team, making his debut in the FIBA World Cup Asia qualifier in early July and then starred for Japan in the 2022 Asia Cup. In seven games with the Senior National Team, Tominaga averaged 15.9 points per game while shooting 39.3 percent from the 3-point line. His best performance came against Australia in the Asia Cup quarterfinals, when he poured in 33 points on 12-of-20 shooting, including 8-of-15 from 3-point range. 

A Change of Pace
One typical trait of a Fred Hoiberg team is to play at a fast pace. The Huskers led the Big Ten in pace in each of the last three seasons according to KenPom, including top-20 rankings in 2019-20 (16th) and 2021-22 (19th). NU has been the only Big Ten team to rank in the top 50 in any of the past three seasons. 

  • The 2022-23 team has been completely different, as NU is 253rd nationally in pace as of Jan. 26. NU has had just seven games with 70+ possessions this season (St. John's, Florida State, Creighton, Indiana, Kansas State, Queens and Ohio State), and only one of those opponents finished above 1.0 point per possession. 

Playing with Pace (Adjusted Tempo per KenPom)

Year Hoiberg-Coached Team Big Ten Leader
2019-20 Nebraska (16th/1st) Same
2020-21 Nebraska (35th/1st) Same
2021-22 Nebraska (19th/1st) Same
2022-23 Nebraska (257th/7th) Iowa (42nd)

<< Previous Next >>