Fighting Illini Take Road Victory Over Gophers
Jan. 17, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -Warren Carter had 17 points, 11 rebounds and five assists to lead Illinois to a 64-52 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday night.
Carter and the Fighting Illini (14-6, 2-3 Big Ten), who extended their winning streak against the Gophers (7-11, 1-3) to 16 games, dating to the 1998-99 season, did all their damage before halftime and led by double digits for the last 27 minutes of the game.
Lawrence McKenzie had 17 points for Minnesota, which averaged 48.3 points while losing the last three to Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. Dan Coleman added 15 points for the Gophers, who were outrebounded 37-27.
Gophers coach Jim Molinari earlier this week described the game as a matchup of two desperate teams, but only the Illini played like it.
Poor finishes by Illinois led to defeats against Xavier and Michigan, and a 14-point lead was wasted in a loss at Michigan State last weekend. The Illini built such a big advantage over a depleted opponent that another late lapse didn't ultimately matter.
Minnesota didn't score until Dan Coleman's layup and three-point play with more than five minutes elapsed, and Illinois built a lead as large as 38-15 with 2:38 left before halftime on Brian Pruitt's dunk. That capped a 21-2 run over less than six minutes, highlighted by Rich McBride's 3-pointer off a fastbreak. Limar Wilson had come up with the ball after a steal by Jamal Abu-Shamala, but instead of flinging it to an open teammate he dribbled to the corner and then lobbed a dangerous pass - which was intercepted by Carter to start the transition.
The Gophers, who are missing leading rebounder Spencer Tollackson and left awfully thin in the frontcourt, defended Carter much better in the second half. Still, they were done in again by a glaring lack of scorers.
Brandon Smith made a pair of free throws after being intentionally fouled to cut the lead to 59-49 near the five-minute mark, but McKenzie was called for carrying the ball - one of his six turnovers - on the ensuing possession. Minnesota never came closer.
McBride is 12-for-26 from 3-point range over his last three games.