MINNEAPOLIS – The No. 3 seed Nebraska men’s basketball team fell to No. 2 seed Illinois, 98-87, in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Saturday afternoon at the Target Center.

The Huskers (23-10) held a 15-point lead just after halftime, but Illinois (25-8) rallied past the Huskers on the strength of 26 points in the paint and 59.4 percent shooting after the break. 

Brice Williams led the Huskers with 23 points. Keisei Tominaga chipped in 18 points, and Rienk Mast scored 15 points. 

Both teams shot exactly 32-of-69 (46.4 percent) from the field. But the 13th-ranked Fighting Illini went 13-of-35 (37.1 percent) from 3-point range, while the Huskers hit just 8-of-27 (29.6 percent). 

Terrence Shannon Jr. had a career-high 40 points to lead Illinois, a Big Ten Tournament record.

Nebraska will await the NCAA Tournament Selection Show at 5 p.m. (CT) on Sunday on CBS. 

NU got off to a promising start, as Mast hit 3-of-4 from 3-point land early in the first half and scored 13 of NU’s first 18 points as the Huskers built a 22-14 lead at the under-12 media timeout. Mast sparked a 7-0 run with a 3 that was followed by layups by Lawrence and Hoiberg. 

Illinois cut it to 24-21 after seven points by Terrence Shannon Jr., but Jamarques Lawrence and Tominaga answered with buckets, and Tominaga’s first 3-pointer of the game made it 31-23 Big Red with 9:07 left in the first half. 

Illinois pulled back within four, but a four-point play by Lawrence and a triple by Williams gave the Huskers a 38-27 lead, and a Sam Hoiberg layup and free throw by Lawrence increased the lead to 13 at 43-30. 

Despite Mast and Josiah Allick sitting on the bench with two fouls for the final 6:27 of the first half, the Huskers went into the break up 51-40, the third straight game the Huskers have scored at least 50 points in the first half. 

The Huskers went up 55-40 after Williams and Tominaga scored out of the break, but Illinois went on a 13-2 run to cut it to 57-53 at the 13:27 mark. A 3-pointer from the corner by Luke Goode tied the game at 68-68, and after two free throws by Mast, Goode banked in another three for a 71-70 Illinois lead, its first since 10-8 at the 16:00 mark of the first half. 

Back-to-back layups by the Illini put them ahead 75-70 with 7:20 to play. Illinois increased its lead to 82-73 with 5:30 left and never let the Huskers get closer than seven points the rest of the way.

Lawrence finished with nine points, while Hoiberg and Juwan Gary each had seven. Allick had six points and seven rebounds. 

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