Illini advance to Big Ten championship game

Mar. 16—MINNEAPOLIS — A career-high 40 points from Terrence Shannon Jr. helped second-seeded Illinois to an 98-87 win over third-seeded Nebraska in the semifinal round of the Big Ten tournament on Saturday.

Illinois will face fifth-seeded Wisconsin for the tournament championship at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

"We'll see what we've got against a very good and hot Wisconsin team," Illinois coach Brad Underwood told Brian Barnhart and Deon Thomas on the radio moments after the game.

It wasn't always easy for Illinois, which trailed 51-40 at halftime and trailed by as many as 15 points.

That was before Shannon contributed six points to a 10-0 Illini run to put Illinois back within striking distance; Illinois outscored the Cornhuskers 55-30 from that point on.

"We played scared," Underwood said. "We played so wimpy and soft and pathetic. My halftime speech ... it's not an X and O thing, it's an effort thing. And it's an intensity thing and it's a pop thing. You can't play great teams and be halfway."

Marcus Domask scored 16 points, Quincy Guerrier added 13 points and Luke Goode added 12 points to round out a quartet of Illini in double scoring figures. Brice Williams led Nebraska with 23 points.

"Luke was huge," Underwood said. "He's done a great job, he's fought some nagging injuries, some tendonitis in his knee and an ankle sprain. I thought Quincy made a big difference, he was out with a couple early fouls but his intensity, his emotion was great."