CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Nebraska basketball notched its first 20-loss season in program history on Monday in a 71-59 defeat at Illinois.
The Huskers tied the game twice — at 31 and 46 — but never led and lost its 12th straight game.
Haanif Cheatham scored a team-high 14 points, Dachon Burke scored 13, Thorir Thorbjarnarson made three 3-pointers for 11 points and Yvan Ouedraogo added a double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Starting point guard Cam Mack did not make the trip due to an illness.
Kofi Cockburn got a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Ayo Dosunmu scored 18 for the Illini. Trent Frazier added 11 with three 3-pointers. The Illini notched 19 offensive rebounds, 14 second chance points.
Burke scored nine in the first half, with seven more from Haanif Cheatham. Those two, plus six points from Yvan Ouedraogo, erased an early 11-point deficit. After Fred Hoiberg called a timeout down 22-11, the Huskers responded with a 13-3 run to tie the game at 31.
NU baited Illinois (18-9, 10-6) into 3-pointers, and the Illini bit, making 4 of 12 in the first half. Long rebounds — and five steals — picked the pace of the game up that fed into Nebraska’s strength.
Trent Frazier finished the half with two 3-pointers, the second one from 75-feet and at the buzzer to head into halftime up 37-31.
Nebraska (7-20, 2-14) has given up a score on the final defensive possession in the first half in the last five games. Iowa’s CJ Fredrick made 3-pointer with 1 second left, Brad Davison made a 3-pointer with five seconds left, Aaron Henry made 3-pointer with 18 seconds left and now there’s Frazier’s heave.
Thorbjarnarson hit a corner 3-pointer, added a 30-footer from the wing and led the Huskers back to a tie game at 46 with 15 minutes left. Nebraska made six of its first seven shots in the second half, and after a layup from Jervay Green on a fast break, erased the six-point halftime deficit.
Three straight makes in the paint by Illinois and a 3:29 scoring drought put the lead back to seven before the next media timeout.
A 3-pointer from Frazier made it a 11-1 run over 3:45 after Nebraska’s 10th turnover of the game. Nebraska never got closer then eight, especially after missing four straight shots while 7-footer Cockburn scored six straight points for a 65-53 lead.
A layup from Dosunmu made it 14-point deficit, the 12th straight time Nebraska’s fallen into that hole.
Nebraska missed nine of its final 11 shots and failed to climb out of the deficit.
The Huskers play again on Thursday when they host No. 23 Ohio State.
Meet the 2019-20 Nebraska men's basketball team