Friday , Mar , 25 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Illinois rolls past Wisconsin-Milwaukee

=== Illinois rolls past Wisconsin-Milwaukee ===

Rosemont, IL (Sports Network) – Deron Williams and Dee Brown scored 21 points
apiece, and top-seeded Illinois earned a berth in the Elite Eight with a 77-63
victory over upstart Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Thursday.

Roger Powell and Luther Head added 12 points each for the Fighting Illini
(35-1), who won a Sweet 16 game for the first time since 2001 — the last time
they were a No. 1 seed.

Illinois shot 49 percent in the game and will face third-seeded Arizona in the
Chicago Regional final Saturday, with an opportunity to reach the Final Four
for the first time since 1989.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Joah Tucker led all players with a career-high 32
points on 12-of-18 shooting, but the 12th-seeded Panthers (26-6) never led in
the second half, bringing to an end their storybook run in just the school’s
second NCAA Tournament appearance.

“These players have taken the city of Milwaukee on a ride it will not soon
forget,” said UWM head coach Bruce Pearl

UWM shot just 39 percent in the game — nothing like its 52 percent
performance against fifth-seeded Alabama in the first round, and eight points
below its showing against No. 4 seed Boston College in round two.

“Illinois was a better basketball team tonight,” Pearl said. “We needed to
play our best basketball to beat them, and we didn’t.”

But the Panthers were equal to the transitional Illinois offense early on, and
the teams combined to score 26 points less than four minutes into the game.

UWM held several leads during that span, but the Illini went ahead for good
when Brown’s three-pointer made it 14-12 at the 16:13 mark.

The Panthers waited until late in the first half to press Illinois, and they
were within three points as late as 3:37 in the half. But the Illini scored
seven straight points for a 36-26 lead — their largest before halftime.

“They make you go fast with pressure,” Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said.
“But once we settled down, we made more shots.”

Brown ended with 13 points in the first half, and Illinois shot 53 percent for
a 39-32 lead heading into the locker room.

The Illini lead reached 14 points just 3 1/2 minutes into the second half when
a Williams three-pointer made it 51-37. UWM’s deficit was in single digits
only a handful of times after that, and on each occasion Illinois had an

When the Horizon League champs pulled within seven points at 58-51, Williams
and Brown rattled off consecutive three-pointers to give the Illini a 64-51
lead with 8:23 remaining.

That touched off a 12-2 run that saw Illinois take a 70-53 lead — its largest
of the game — on Powell’s layup with 6:35 left.

UWM was never closer than nine after that.