LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- There were tears in the Illinois locker room Saturday after Nebraska used a 36-4 run to win 80-57 and send the struggling Illini to their fifth consecutive loss.
"I think the whole thing piled up and the wheels came off," coach Bruce Weber said. "Part of it was Nebraska, there's no doubt. They got on a roll.
"For the most part all year, we've competed with everybody. I think the doubt just hit us. The weight of the world came tumbling down, and we couldn't stop it."
Bo Spencer scored 27 points to help Nebraska (12-13, 4-10 Big Ten) snap a four-game losing streak. Caleb Walked added 13 and Brandon Richardson 12.
D.J. Richardson scored 15 points for Illinois (16-11, 5-9).
But the 23-point drubbing matched a 59-36 loss at Minnesota in 2009 as the worst in Weber's nine years at the school.
It put the Illini on shaky ground to make the NCAA tournament and added pressure to the beleaguered Weber, who has been the subject of speculation that he will be fired at the end of the season.
"I'm going to coach every day that I can," Weber said. "I love it. I love coaching. I love coaching these guys. It's been a hard week on our players. It's been a hard week on our staff. There's no doubt."
The players said they didn't think they were playing for Weber's job Saturday.
"I hope not," said Tracy Abrams, who scored 11 points. "It's not Coach's fault. He didn't play the game for us.
"They prepared us pretty well. We've got to execute a little bit. We couldn't find ways to do that. I wouldn't say that's necessarily Coach's fault."
In fact, Sam Maniscalco said, Weber's future wasn't in their minds at all.
"We weren't thinking about that," he said. "We were thinking about playing for each other, the guy to our left, the guy to our right, the coaching staff, everybody involved.
"Obviously, everybody knows what's going on. But as basketball players you've got to block that stuff out and focus on what you've got to do on the floor."
Nebraska coach Doc Sadler, who has also been the subject of the same sort of speculation, said the game wasn't about Weber.
"I don't think it's about coach Weber," Sadler said. "I think it's about Illinois. Like it's not about me; it's about Nebraska.
"I thought the biggest thing was it's not so much what they did, but we made some unbelievable shots. We just made shots, and they didn't. It means just as much to us as it does anybody. We're still playing for something too."
Nebraska, which hit 56 percent of its shots, started hitting late in the first half.
Nebraska jumped in front with a 17-2 run to close the first half. Trailing 24-16 with 8:35 remaining in the half, the Huskers switched to a zone defense, then held the Illini without a basket for more than 7 minutes and forced six turnovers.
"When we switched to the zone, that helped a little bit, maybe got them out of their rhythm," Sadler said. "More than anything, they probably missed a lot of shots that they normally don't miss."
The Nebraska spurt continued after intermission. The Huskers outscored the Illini 19-2 to open the second half, going up 52-28 on Mike Fox's 3-pointer with 14:23 remaining. Nebraska's biggest lead was 32.
"It is good to have them fall in," said Spencer. "We just have to keep it going.
"It was great to have a win, but we have to get right back in the gym and keep doing what we have been doing in practices. It was extremely fun, just to see everyone happy, including Coach."