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Wisconsin makes first title game

Associated Press
Published March 14, 2004

INDIANAPOLIS - Devin Harris scored 21, including back-to-back 3-pointers to start a late rally, and No. 10 Wisconsin beat Michigan State 68-66 Saturday to advance to the championship game.

The Spartans had a chance to tie after Wisconsin's Zach Morley missed the second of two free throws. However, Maurice Ager's runner in the lane caromed off the front of the rim as time expired.

Wisconsin (23-6) will play No. 12 Illinois, the defending tournament and regular-season champion, today for an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. The championship will pit the top two seeds, and Wisconsin will make its first appearance in the title game.

The loss was Michigan State's fifth straight to the Badgers.

Mike Wilkinson had 20 points and helped set the tempo inside for the Badgers. Wilkinson also had nine rebounds and three blocks to anchor an aggressive interior defense that forced Michigan State outside.

The Spartans (18-11) shot 54.5 percent and hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in the first half, but managed only one more after that.

Paul Davis led Michigan State with 16 points and five rebounds, and Shannon Brown added 15.

Michigan State led 35-30 at the break, but Wisconsin came back with 10-0 run to take a 50-46 lead with 10:58 left.

Ager hit a 3-pointer with 5:28 left to given Michigan State a 58-57 lead. The teams traded baskets until Harris hit a 3 with 1:17 left to give Wisconsin a 65-64 lead.

Ager came right back with a basket, but Wilkinson hit two free throws to put the Badgers on top for good.

NO. 12 ILLINOIS 74, MICH. 60: Dee Brown scored 21 and the Illini (24-5) held off a second-half comeback in the semifinals.

"I've got to believe pretty much everything is pretty settled in," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "You might have some tweaks here and there, some upsets, but the big thing was getting to the (Big Ten) championship. Now, if anything, we can come in loose and free. Hopefully, we earned a No. 3 (seed) by advancing."

Michigan (18-11), a bubble team for an NCAA bid, cut a 15-point lead to two midway through the second half, mainly with the 3-point shooting of Daniel Horton.

"We battled hard, and certainly we made a game of it in the second half," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said.

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