Deron Williams, left, and Gonzaga guard Piere Marie Altidor-Cespedes battle for a loose ball.
Nov. 27, 2004
By JON KRAWCZYNSKI
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Fifth-ranked Illinois appears to be ready for No. 1 Wake Forest.
Deron Williams scored 20 points to lead Illinois to a 89-72 win over No. 24 Gonzaga on Saturday in the John Wooden Tradition at Conseco Fieldhouse.
The Illini (4-0) set the tone from the opening tip, using superior 3-point shooting and suffocating defense to dominate the Bulldogs (3-1) and set up an early season showdown with the Demon Deacons in Champaign, Ill., next week.
Illinois made 14 of 28 3-pointers and scored 29 points off 19 Gonzaga turnovers to turn the game into a rout in the first five minutes.
Adam Morrison led Gonzaga with 26 points and 11 rebounds and Ronny Turiaf added 12 points and nine rebounds.
Williams got the Illini started with 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 on Saturday, he was immediately surrounded by two or three Illinois players, forcing him to pass out of the post.
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.
And his teammates just couldn't pick up the slack. Morrison scored 11 points in the first half, but he was the only player that was at all effective against the deep and athletic Illini.
The Illini made 10 of 17 3-pointers and shot 55 percent from the field in the first half to take control.
They closed the half in convincing fashion, with a 3-pointer by Williams, a layup by Roger Powell and a layup by Head at the buzzer for a 58-27 lead that turned the second half into garbage time.
The Bulldogs were overwhelmed by the lightning-quick Illini break and physical inside play.
Gonzaga outrebounded Illinois 39-26, but that was about the only thing the Bulldogs did right.