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Feb 4, 2024 9:05 pm

No. 14 Illinois fends off Nebraska in overtime

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No. 14 Illinois squandered a 10-point lead in the final 3:29 of regulation, but maintained a narrow edge for the final four minutes of overtime to claim an 87-84 Big Ten victory over Nebraska Sunday night in Champaign, Ill.

Coleman Hawkins produced 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists while Marcus Domask scored 19 points and Terrence Shannon Jr. added 18 as Illinois (17-5, 8-3 Big Ten) pulled into a second-place tie with Wisconsin — 1 1/2 games behind Purdue.

Keisei Tominaga scored a career-high 31 points to pace Nebraska (16-7, 6-6). Rienk Mast posted 22 points and Juwan Gary added 12 points and 11 rebounds as the Cornhuskers nearly won back-to-back games against Associated Press Top 25 teams for the first time since 1958.

The Huskers scored 11 straight points in the final three-plus minutes of regulation and took a 73-72 lead on Mast’s short, banked hook with 9.3 seconds left. Illinois brought the ball straight up the court and Domask drew a shooting foul with 3.1 seconds to go — but the 89 percent free-throw shooter missed his second try to send the game into overtime at 73-73.

Quincy Guerrier (12 points) and Domask each scored four points in overtime for Illinois.

Nebraska led for most of the first half as Tominaga was determined not to repeat his two-point effort in Thursday’s overtime win over Wisconsin. The first time the senior left-hander touched the ball, he swished a stepback 3-pointer from the corner in front of Illinois’ bench. When he pulled up on the break and made another 3-pointer at the 13:38 mark, he was up to 12 points and the Huskers owned a 16-12 lead.

Illinois later got within 28-27 on Shannon’s breakaway slam, but Nebraska took a 36-34 lead into the break as Tominaga posted 15 points.

The Illini wasted no time seizing control in the second half as they sliced through Nebraska’s man-to-man to hit their first six shots. They converted layups on their first five possessions — two by Guerrier, two by Ty Rodgers (eight points, 14 rebounds, two blocks, three steals) and one by Shannon. Then Hawkins drilled a 3-pointer on the sixth possession to give Illinois a 47-40 edge and force Nebraska to call a timeout with 16:26 to go.

The Huskers switched to a zone to cool off Illinois and got as close as 57-55 on a pullup by C.J. Wilcher. Illinois tried to pull away in the final five minutes as Shannon drilled two 3-pointers and Hawkins added a third in a 100-second stretch to give the Illini a 72-62 lead with 3:29 left before Nebraska’s late rally.

–Field Level Media

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