Gonzaga Can’t Stop Illinois
After three consecutive blowouts, No. 5 Illinois was looking forward to its first real test Saturday against No. 24 Gonzaga.
Now it looks as if the Illini will have to wait until they play top-ranked Wake Forest in Champaign, Ill., on Wednesday.
Deron Williams and Luther Head each scored 20 points to lead Illinois to an 89-72 win over Gonzaga in the John Wooden Tradition at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The Illini (4-0) set the tone from the opening tip, using accurate three-point shooting and tough defense to dominate the Bulldogs (3-1).
Illinois made 14 of 28 three-point shots and scored 29 points off 19 Gonzaga turnovers to turn the game into a rout in the first five minutes.
“We were thoroughly dominated today, in every phase of the game,” Bulldog Coach Mark Few said. “There were times it didn’t appear we belonged out there on the court.”
Adam Morrison led Gonzaga with 26 points and 11 rebounds and Ronny Turiaf had 12 points and nine rebounds.
Williams got the Illini started on an 11-0 run early in the first half, and they never looked back. Illinois forced seven turnovers in the first five minutes, which led to 14 points and an 18-4 lead.
Gonzaga’s game plan was to get the ball down low to Turiaf, who had a career-high 40 points in a win over Idaho on Wednesday. But every time he touched the ball he was immediately surrounded by two or three Illinois players, forcing him to pass.
No. 4 Syracuse 78, Siena 56 -- The Orange (5-0) won its 29th in a row against in-state opponents and sent the Saints (0-5) to the worst start in school history. It was the Orange’s first game in Pepsi Arena at Albany, N.Y., since they beat Auburn and Oklahoma to earn a Final Four berth on the way to winning the 2003 national championship.
No. 6 Oklahoma State 73, Sam Houston State 57 -- The Cowboys (3-0) trailed, 41-40, with 13 1/2 minutes to play at Stillwater, Okla., but took control with a 12-3 run. Free throws by brothers Joey and Stephen Graham extended the lead to 70-53 with two minutes left.
No. 9 Duke 98, North Carolina Greensboro 44 -- The Blue Devils (3-0) built a 20-point lead midway through the first half at Durham and were never challenged by their in-state neighbor from the Southern Conference.
No. 10 Michigan State 102, Nicholls State 52 -- The Spartans (3-0) used a 17-2 start and a 20-2 run near the end of the first half to lead, 48-16, at the break at East Lansing, Mich. They led by at least 32 points at halftime for the third game in a row. The Spartans will take a 103.3-point average into Tuesday’s game at No. 9 Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
No. 16 Pittsburgh 93, Loyola, Md. 57 -- The Panthers (3-0) quickly built leads of 13-2, 17-5, 28-11 and 39-13 in overpowering the Greyhounds (0-3) at Pittsburgh.
No. 22 Washington 79, No. 19 Alabama 76 -- The Huskies (4-0) led the entire second half in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout at Anchorage, but barely escaped overtime when Kennedy Winston missed a desperation three-point attempt at the buzzer. The Huskies’ Nate Robinson finished with 16 points and was selected the tournament’s outstanding player. Chuck Davis led the Crimson Tide (4-1) with 23 points and 19 rebounds.
No. 23 Florida 84, Providence 66 -- The Friars (4-2), playing their third game in four days, couldn’t keep up with the Gators (3-0), who never trailed at American Airlines Arena in Miami. Providence lost to No. 1 Wake Forest in Wednesday’s Preseason NIT semifinals, beat Michigan in Friday’s consolation game at Madison Square Garden, then boarded a charter flight to Miami and faced the Gators 17 hours after they landed.
Arizona State 87, Vanderbilt 68 -- Ike Diogu had game-highs of 30 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Sun Devils (3-1) in the third-place game of the Las Vegas Holiday Invitational. He went eight of 10 from the field and made 14 of 16 free throws.
Kansas State 62, Washington State 53 -- The Cougars (2-1) moved to within 49-47 on a three-pointer by Josh Akognon with 6:44 left at Manhattan, Kan., but the Wildcats (3-0) responded with a 9-0 run -- capped by Clent Stewart’s three-pointer with 1:47 left for a 58-47 lead.
McKendree 78, Freed-Hardeman 69 -- Bearcat Coach Harry Statham tied Dean Smith’s record of 879 career wins with the home victory at Jackson, Tenn. Statham passed Adolph Rupp’s total of 876 wins earlier this season. Rupp still ranks second to Smith in NCAA history because Statham’s wins have come at the NAIA level.