Palmer scores 23, Nebraska beats Illinois in Big Ten opener
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — James Palmer Jr. had 23 points and Nebraska opened up an early 11-point lead, then held off Illinois for a 75-60 win Sunday in the Big Ten conference opener for both teams.
Nebraska (7-1) came out hot, hitting its first three field goals and all six of its free throws to go up 13-2 just 2½ minutes into the game.
Illinois (2-6) trimmed its deficit to four points midway through the first half but Nebraska closed on a 10-2 run to take a 39-23 halftime lead.
The Illini cut the Husker lead to 10 early in the second half and came within nine three times in the final 17 minutes, the last time at 60-51 on Da’monte Williams’ jumper with 6:26 left. But a 7-0 Nebraska flurry capped by a breakaway Isaiah Roby dunk put Nebraska up 70-53 with 3:40 left.
The Huskers hit 25 of 30 from the free-throw line, including 12 of 14 by Palmer. Illinois made 8 of its 13 free-throw attempts.
Isaac Copeland had 16 points and Glynn Watson, Jr. had 14 points for Nebraska.
Giorgi Bezhanishvili led Illinois with 14 points. Kipper Nichols scored 12 and Ayu Dosunmu added 10 for the Illini.
Nebraska: The Huskers have now won 16 straight home games. It’s their longest home winning streak since winning 16 in a row in 1981-82 and 1982-83 season. It was Nebraska’s 10th straight Big Ten home win, dating to the start of last season.
Illinois: The Fighting Illini entered the game ranked 18th in 3-pointers, making an average of 10.9 per game on 40 percent shooting. Illinois was 6 of 15 from 3-point range Sunday, shooting exactly 40 percent.
Nebraska travels to Minnesota Wednesday
Illinois hosts No. 16 Ohio State Wednesday.