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Illinois vs. Nebraska final score: Rayvonte Rice leads Illini to 69-57 win over Nebraska

Illini keep NCAA tournament hopes alive.

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Rayvonte Rice slipped on the Flyin' Illini jersey No. 24 jersey for the final time at the State Farm Center on Wednesday night.

And this time he came one point shy of matching his number on the box score.

Rice scored 23 and led Illinois to a win they desperately needed to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive with a 69-57 decision over Nebraska.

The Illini (19-11, 9-8 Big Ten) have won two straight as they look for a bid into the big dance.

Nebraska (13-6, 5-12) have lost seven straight games and nine of its last 10.

Rice had a quiet six-point first half but came out after halftime with a 17-point performance in his final 20 minutes in front of his hometown crowd. Midway through the half, Rice strung together seven points gave the Illini a 46-42 lead after trailing by one-point, 40-39.

The senior nailed a shot from 3-point range with 1:35 left for a 59-50 Illinois lead. Rice hit 4 of 7 from beyond-the-arc.

Nebraska scored the last two points of the first half and the first 11 after halftime to take a 36-31 lead before the Illini stormed back with a vengeance.

Fellow senior Nnanna Egwu did his thing with six points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots.

Kendrick Nunn and Leron Black added 11 each for the Illinois. Sophomore guard Malcolm Hill shot 1 of 7, finishing with 10 points.

The Illini showed why they're the best team from the free-throw line in the nation by going 20-23 (83 percent). Both teams shot 42.9 percent from the field while the Illini were 7-16 from long range and the Cornhuskers were a dismal 5-20 in the same category. The Illini pulled down 31 boards (10 offensive) while Nebraska had 28 (nine offensive).

Shavon Sheilds led the Cornhuskers with 14 points. Terran Petteway added 13.

Rice, Egwu, Ahmad Starks and Ryan Schmidt were all honored by the Illini. Schmidt, a student manager before injures provided him a roster spot on the team, checked into game in the closing seconds for Rice to a huge ovation from the crowd.

The Illini return to action Saturday at Purdue in their regular-season finale.

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