CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The second half of the Big Ten schedule tips off tonight for the Illinois men’s basketball team, hosting Nebraska at State Farm Center for a 6 p.m. start on Big Ten Network. The Illini (15-6, 6-4 B1G) finished the first half of league play two games above .500. After dropping the first three conference games, Illinois bounced back nicely winning six of its next seven. Overall in the month of January, the Illini are 6-2, including victories in six of their last seven games.

“I think we get settled a little bit,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said about how his team has come together. “Role identification becomes big, I think that has been bigger this year. I think we’ve found comfort in a few things offensively that suit us.”

Illinois is 14-point favorites over the Huskers, a team they beat by 26 in Lincoln earlier this month. Overall, the Huskers (10-12, 3-8 B1G) are 13th out of 14 Big Ten teams in the standings and have lost five of their last six games.

After arriving in Champaign last week, mid-year transfer Niccolo Moretti has started working out with the Illini. The Bologna, Italy native will redshirt this season.

“I said, ‘How good’s your conditioning?’ He said, ‘Not very.’ I said, ‘When was the last time you played?’ He said, ‘It’s been three weeks to a month,'” Underwood said about one of his first conversations with Moretti. “We’ll get a week to 10-day base with Fletch, getting him back to some semblance of shape, getting him back in the gym with our coaches, doing individual workouts.”

“I talked to him the other day, he said he’s liking it,” Illinois freshman guard Jayden Epps said. “He just want me to help him with the plays and stuff, some of the drills in practice. Just teach him the ropes, cause he’s going to be a pretty good player.”