Nebraska Basketball uses defense to take down Illinois

. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images) /

The Nebraska basketball team kept its early-season momentum moving forward Sunday, as the defense helped the Huskers take down Illinois.

The Nebraska basketball team has a lot of things going for it. For one, the Huskers have James Palmer, one of the top individual players in the Big Ten. Beyond that though, NU has its defense, which is the biggest reason why the Huskers knocked off Illinois 75-60 in the Big Ten opener.

The two teams met at Pinnacle Bank Arena Sunday and at the place affectionately known as “The Vault” Nebraska basketball defended the bucket like it was defending a room of safe deposit boxes.

In the first half, the Huskers were especially stingy, holding Illinois to just 23 points, while Nebraska raced out to a double-digit lead. NU actually opened the game on a 12-1 run and took a 39-23 lead into intermission.

In the second half, it was more of the same. Illinois started to get some things going, however, the lead stayed around 11-12 pounds. Every time the Fighting Illini tried to get back into the game, Nebraska basketball had the answer.

Palmer was a big part of that and again, much of what he did was getting to the free throw line. Getting to the bucket is easily one of his best attributes and against Illinois, he got to the line 14 times, making 12 on his way to 23 points. Palmer made just four field goals, however, three of them were from 3-point range. Glynn Watson also added 15 points.

Yet, the defense was the story. Nebraska held Illinois to just 60 points and only 40 percent shooting. More importantly, one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the country was just 6-of-15 from deep. Nebraska also forced 15 turnovers, notched eight steals and allowed Illinois to shoot just 13 free throws or half of the 26 Nebraska attempted.

Most impressively, Nebraska was able to hold Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois best player in check. The freshman did score 10 points, but he was just 3-of-12 from the field.

All in all, it was another strong performance. Nebraska basketball took on a weaker team and did exactly what you would expect the Huskers to do. Now, the Huskers get set for a huge week of games.

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First, Nebraska will play its second Big Ten game of the week, as the Huskers will visit Minnesota Wednesday night. Then, Nebraska basketball will battle Creighton in a fight for state supremacy and another resume-building, non-conference opportunity.