Illinois looked like a team dead in the water for the first 20 minutes against Nebraska. Fortunately, Terrence Shannon Jr. delivered an outing for the ages to keep the Illini going early and punctuate a comeback late.

Heading into halftime, Fred Hoiberg’s Huskers had a 51-40 lead. Nebraska was firing on all cylinders while the Illini offense was stagnant outside of Shannon.

Then, the second half got rolling, and it was entirely different story. The Illini started chipping away and finally tied the game at 68 points apiece with 9:20 left to play.

Once Illinois got rolling, Nebraska never had answer. Brad Underwood’s squad outscored the Huskers 58-36 in the second half and were able to cruise to the finish line with a 98-87 win to roll into Sunday’s Big Ten Basketball Tournament final. The Illini will face Wisconsin for the title, and fans can track the early odds for Sunday with Tradition’s sports betting in Ohio links.

Here are the key takeaways from Saturday’s semifinal between the Huskers and Illini:

Terrence Shannon Jr. produces historic outing

The fact Illinois only trailed by 11 points at the break was a blessing, and it was only because of Shannon’s early scoring. In the second half, he kept things rolling and put up an afternoon for the ages.

When the game finally wrapped up, he finished with a B1G Tournament record 40 points on 11-for-22 shooting and a 5-for-9 afternoon from 3-point range. He also shot 13-for-16 from the free-throw line.

The previous record was 35 points. He is also the first player with 40+ points in a power conference tournament game since 2013.

Illinois chasing first title since 2021

Brad Underwood once again has Illinois clicking in the postseason, looking for the program’s first B1G Tournament title since 2021. That group was led by star power in Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn, but this team might be more complete overall.

Even with Coleman Hawkins shooting 1-for-7 from deep (and 3-for-9 overall), Illinois finished the win over Nebraska shooting 37% from 3-point range on 35 attempts. Marcus Domask came alive after a rough start to add 16 points while Quincy Guerrier and Ty Rodgers also produced in support roles.

Ultimately, success in the B1G Tournament has not been the problem under Underwood with the Illini still looking to advance past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament under his guidance. However, Illinois is building momentum ahead of the tournament and should be in position to break that streak next week.

Nebraska misses history but fantastic season remains

Nebraska arrived in Minneapolis as the 3-seed in the B1G but with something to prove. The Huskers did that with a brilliant opening game against Indiana, but they will be kicking themselves a bit after the blown opportunity of Saturday.

Nebraska had never played for the B1G Tournament title and was just 20 minutes away from another storybook chapter in a fantastic turnaround season. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but the Huskers need to get the bad taste out of their mouths in a hurry.

Nebraska has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2014, but that will change when the selection show airs Sunday evening. All that’s left to be determined is seeding and where the Huskers will open their run next weekend.