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Illinois shuts down Friday's star in victory

Terrell Taylor, whose last-second shot beat Florida in the first round, scores only 10 points in Creighton's 72-60 loss.

By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 18, 2002


CHICAGO -- Illinois managed to find a way to do something Florida could not.

Stop Terrell Taylor.

The Creighton guard, who scored 28 points and the winning basket to help end the Gators' season Friday, was held to 10 Sunday as Illinois defeated Creighton 72-60 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region at the United Center.

Illinois (26-8), which has won 11 of 12, advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season to face top-seeded Kansas on Friday in Madison, Wis.

"I'm happy about the game," Illinois coach Bill Self said. "Creighton gave us everything we wanted. We didn't play great, but it was a case of survive and advance. In the first half, when it got kind of close, the collar could have gotten tight. But the guys responded well."

Illinois led 31-26 at halftime after leading by as many as 11 midway through the game.

Kyle Korver's 3-pointer to open the second half pulled the Bluejays to within two.

Then Frank Williams got hot.

Williams, who was scoreless in the first half, scored 20 points in the second half, including four consecutive 3-pointers that gave Illinois a much-needed lift.

"In the first half, I didn't play that well, and coach jumped on me in the locker room," Williams said. "My teammates just told me to keep my head up because they know what I could do. In the second half, I just came out and played more aggressive."

Still, it took a while for the Illini to shake Creighton.

Trailing 38-29 two minutes into the second half, the Bluejays outscored Illinois 15-8 to pull within two with 12:33 left. "They are obviously a team that competes really hard, and they were aggressive on the boards," Illinois center Robert Archibald said. "In a situation where things get tight, you need guys to step up and make plays. And we were able to do that in the second half. Frank came out aggressive in the second half, and we just followed his lead."

Leading 46-44 with 12:33 left, Illinois went on an 18-5 run to take a 64-49 lead. Creighton, which led just once (3-2 2:04 in), seemed to run out of energy. But Creighton coach Dana Altman refused to use that as an excuse.

"I told the team before the game I didn't want to hear any of that," Altman said. "This time of year, you find energy. No excuses. I really don't think it was a factor. We had an opportunity there at the 10-minute mark when we had it down to two points. We needed some stops, and we simply did not get them."

Illinois led by as many as 11 three times in the first half but endured a drought that allowed the Bluejays to stay close.

After taking a 22-11 lead with 10:24 left in the first half, the Illini didn't make another field goal until Brian Cook's layup with 4:39 left. By then, Creighton had pulled to within 25-23.

Cook helped keep Illinois in the game in the first half by scoring 14 of his 16 points, mostly by dominating in the paint. He was 6-for-7 from the field in the half. The rest of the Illini were 5-for-16. Illinois held Taylor to 2-for-9 on 3-pointers and 4-for-14 from the field. Korver, who celebrated his 21st birthday Sunday, led the Bluejays with 14 points.

The Illini made 7 of 11 3-pointers in the second half and shot 55.6 percent from the field. Creighton outrebounded Illinois 34-27 -- including 17-6 on the offensive end -- but was held to 37.3 percent shooting.

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