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College basketball

Men: Gonzaga barely a challenge to Illini

By wire services
Published November 28, 2004

INDIANAPOLIS - After three straight 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 top-ranked Wake Forest comes to Champaign on Wednesday.

Deron Williams and Luther Head scored 20 each to lead Illinois to an 89-72 win over Gonzaga in the John Wooden Tradition at Conseco Fieldhouse.

The Illini set the tone from the opening tip, using superior 3-point shooting and suffocating defense to dominate the Bulldogs and set up the showdown with the Demon Deacons.

"We just came out and tried to make a statement, show we're for real," Williams said.

They certainly did.

Illinois made 14 of 28 3-pointers and scored 29 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," Bulldogs 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 added 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 going in was to get the ball down low to Turiaf, who was coming off a career-high 40 points in a win over Idaho on Wednesday.

But every time Turiaf touched the ball Saturday, he was immediately surrounded by two or three Illinois players, forcing him to pass out of the post.

"They're young, but we bothered them even when Turiaf had good position," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "He was saying, "Get me the ball!' But by the time they could get it to him, it was too late."

Turiaf couldn't handle the pressure. He had six turnovers, including one pass out of a double team that landed in the second row of the stands.

"Every time I touched the ball, there were two guys on me and three others watching me," Turiaf said. "I tried to find my teammates and did a poor job. ... I did a pathetic job tonight."

His teammates couldn't pick up the slack. Morrison scored 11 in the first half, but he was the only player at all effective against the deep and athletic Illini.

NO. 4 SYRACUSE 78, SIENA 56: Gerry McNamara did it all for the visiting Orange, scoring 29 and making the first dunk of his college career. He even managed to survive a couple of headlong dives, one of which left him sprawled in the Siena band.

Hakim Warrick and Josh Pace each added 13 points to lead Syracuse, which took an 18-2 lead in the first five minutes and led comfortably the rest of the way.

McNamara, Syracuse's best outside shooter, paced the early surge with a layup and a dunk after a steal and courtlong dash. He then completed a four-point play after hitting his 200th career 3-pointer.

The scrappy Saints, who had 12 steals, regrouped and rallied to withing 23-14 on a 3-pointer from the left wing by Tay Fisher, who finished with 12 points. But every time Siena seemed on the verge of making it a game, McNamara struck back.

"I pride myself in making the ones when I need to. When you jump on a team early and keep them there, it's not too bad," McNamara said.

NO. 6 OKLA. ST. 73, SHS 57: Joey Graham scored 25 and John Lucas III 17 as the host Cowboys recovered from a subpar first half.

Graham scored 18 and Lucas 14 in the second half to help Oklahoma State overcome a six-point halftime deficit.

Graham had two crucial baskets off offensive rebounds and Lucas was strong from 3-point range to fuel the Cowboys offense while the Bearkats kept pushing.

NO. 10 MICH. ST. 102, NICHOLLS ST. 52: Coach Tom Izzo wasn't happy with a 50-point win in his 300th game.

The host Spartans posted their third straight 100-point game, but Izzo's team will get a real test at No. 9 Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday. That's followed by a possible meeting with No. 13 Maryland in a tournament next weekend in Washington.

"I guess teams go through this all over the country when they play this kind of schedule," Izzo said of a 104-72 rout over Florida A&M and 104-46 win against Wisconsin-Green Bay. "It has given us a false sense of security that, thank God, will end on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday."

NO. 16 PITT 93, LOYOLA (MD.) 57: Chevon Troutman and Chris Taft dominated the much smaller Greyhounds inside at both ends, and the host Panthers cruised to their third consecutive victory against weak opposition.

The 6-foot-10 Taft and the 6-foot-7 Troutman were in control from the start against Loyola, which hasn't had a winning season since going to the NCAA Tournament in 1994 under Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser.

PEPPERDINE 75, NO. 20 WISCONSIN 61: Glen McGowan scored 29 to lead the host Waves to their fourth straight win. Alex Acker added 17 points and seven assists for Pepperdine, which defeated a ranked opponent for the first time since beating Gonzaga 88-79 on Jan. 8, 2002.

With the score tied at 34 at the break, Pepperdine opened the second half with a 25-4 run.

[Last modified November 28, 2004, 00:43:12]


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