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3 takeaways from Nebraska basketball loss to Illinois



Nebraska basketball

Nebraska basketball put forth a valiant effort in a loss to the Illinois and here are three takeaways.

As good as the wins over Purdue and Wisconsin were, a win over Illinois on Sunday would have been the best of the season for Nebraska basketball.

Unfortunately, they came up three points short, in overtime, against one of the best teams in college basketball. Keisei Tominaga had a stellar outing. The defense was outstanding except the Huskers couldn’t get a defensive rebound to save their life in the second half.

They did have the lead in the final seconds before a foul call on C.J. Wilcher allowed Illinois to force overtime. Illinois was able to get a three-point lead in overtime and in the last minute and the Huskers weren’t able to answer.

The 87-84 loss will be a tough one to swallow. Tominaga scored 31 points. Rienk Mast added 22 points and six boards. The Huskers are 16-7 overall and 6-6 in the Big Ten.

Here are three takeaways.

Keisei found his game

It’s been a struggle recently for Keisei Tominaga but it was anything but on Sunday night. He came out firing and outside of a heat-check shot in the first half, he was nearly perfect from 3-point range (5-for-7 and the last miss was a 3/4 court heave). He didn’t miss any free throws and also did a great job of attacking the basket.

Illinois was smart to not allow him to get a game-tying attempt late in overtime because chances are, he would have made it. Before the last three games, in which Tominaga scored a combined 14 points, he made 19 3-pointers in his previous six outings.

Tominaga has been a little hot and cold this season, but the stretch run would be a great time for him to get hot and hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.

 Offensive boards doomed Nebraska basketball

Nebraska baskeball did a decent job in the first half of limiting Illinois on the offensive glass, but things fell apart in the second half when the Fighting Illini grabbed 11 on the offensive glass. Illinois excels at creating second-chance points and if the Huskers had been able to do a better job of limiting those, they would have won the game.

The 3-point defense was better, although Illinois still hit nine treys and missed a lot of good looks. All in all, you have to be happy with the defensive effort, which was solid.

It wasn’t matched on the defensive glass though and it cost the Huskers in the end.

A positive sign

Power-5 college basketball isn’t a place for moral victories. Nebraska also isn’t searching for those when it is trying to reach the NCAA tournament. A win over Illinois would have been huge on the NCAA resume.

However, this was still a step in the right direction. Nebraska was drubbed by Maryland on the road last week. Three of the last four losses on the road were by double digits and Illinois, when they have all their guys, are as good as any team in the Big Ten, especially at Assembly Hall.

This loss shouldn’t impact the resume. It also shouldn’t drop the Huskers in the NET rankings. They still need to get a road win in conference play to clean up the resume. Wednesday against Northwestern is a great chance and more opportunities await.

Nebraska missed an opportunity on Sunday, but if they can play like that on the road down the stretch, I’m confident they’ll be able to string together a win or two away from home.

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Chris has worked in sports journalism since 2005 writing for multiple newspapers and websites such as the Bleacher Report and Fansided before starting Husker Big Red, A fan site for hardcore followers of the #Huskers offering articles, podcasts, videos and more exclusive content on all things Nebraska