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Saturday, March 13

Texas Gunslinger shoots down Hoosiers
Illini, Williams use late run to dump Indiana 71-59            
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[MARCH 13, 2004]  So, you are at the Big Ten Tournament featuring a game between the two schools that invented basketball, Illinois and Indiana.  What would you expect to find?  Would you expect some tall, strong athletic kid from Chicago dominating the glass and swatting shots into the cheap (sic) seats?  Or maybe you would expect some kid from a farm town in Indiana to be lighting up 3-point shots for 40 minutes?  Would you believe it was a kid from Texas who had never even been to the states of Illinois or Indiana who just blew up?  That’s what Deron Williams did Friday afternoon in the Hoosiers home away from home, Conseco Fieldhouse.

After Indiana made a relentless comeback to tie the game at 52-52 with 5:46, all Williams did was score 10 of Illinois’ next 11 points and 12 of their last 19. That helped the Illini pull away so that the game would not be a carbon copy of last year’s contest at the United Center.

When IU tied the game, the mood was somber on Illinois’ side of press row, but I leaned over and told my tag team partner Greg that this will show us what we are made of. Is there any doubt? At least I can tell you what Williams was made of. Some of the Hoosier faithful were overheard stating that they recruited the wrong kid out of the Colony, Texas. All I know is that other than the huge game that Luther Head had just to keep Illinois in position to win, the way Williams stepped up was like that of a man among boys!

The Illini are the only Big Ten team to have won their quarter-final game every year since the tournament began in 1998.

The Illini’s 11-game winning streak is the longest since the year after the Final Four trip to Seattle. That 89-90 team started the season on an 11 game roll.

In the seven year history of the tourney the team with the best record is your Fighting Illini with a 12-5 record.

Illinois is 7-1 in orange and 7-0 in their last seven orange appearances.

Other Illini factoids RE: the record
18-1 when Luther Head starts
17-1 when holding opponents under 45% shooting
17-1 when committing fewer turnovers
17-1 when they score 70 or more points
18-2 when they are ahead at halftime
3-0…here on CBS!

[to top of second column in this article]


Luther Head’s 29-point outburst was a career high.

Spotted in the crowd:  Pat Riley, Jim Nance and Steve Lavin


In other quarter-final games:

Michigan ran away from Iowa 79-70. Iowa started off hot but Michigan caught them and pulled away and by midway through the second half were up by as many as 19. The Hawkeyes staged a furious rally and closed to within 4 at 63-67 with 2:42 left to play. Michigan righted the ship and pulled away for the final margin.

The Wolverines were led by a red hot, Dion Harris with 23 points, but got 19 from Lester Abram and 14 from Daniel Horton. Iowa was led by Pierre Pierce’s 28 points.
Michigan is now 18-10 and will meet Illinois Saturday afternoon in the semi-finals while Iowa is eyeing an NIT bid come Sunday.

Wisconsin buried Minnesota 66-52 after sprinting to a 30-22 first half advantage. The Badgers forced 19 Gopher turnovers while only committing 10 of their own. The Gophers did get to within 7 points with just over 8 minutes and some change left but Bucky dusted them aside from there.
Mike Wilkinson led the way with 22 points while Big Ten POY, Devin Harris had 21. The Gophers were led by FOY Kris Humphries and Adam Boone with 12 points a piece. The Badgers await a date with the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday afternoon.

Michigan State used a huge first half run from the ten minute mark to the half to build-up an insurmountable 36-23 lead and was never really headed. Northwestern awaits their NIT assignment while the Spartans will meet the Badgers in a classic Big Ten match-up. MSU put the Wildcats away 68-55 behind 17 points by Chris Hill and Maurice Ager with 14 points. Jitim Young led the way for Northwestern with 24 points.

[Jeff Mayfield]

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