Sunday, March 14, 2004

Big 10: Harris shoots; Badgers rebound

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - Devin Harris didn't let his team's poor shooting affect him.

He scored 21 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers to start a late rally, and No. 10 Wisconsin came back to beat Michigan State 68-66 Saturday and advance to the Big Ten Tournament final.

When the buzzer sound, a euphoric Harris dived to the floor in front of the Badgers bench, and his teammates piled on top of him.

"Some of the shots were toward the end of the shot clock, and I came off the screen, trying to make some thing happen," said Harris, the Big Ten Player of the Year. "Toward the end of the game, if I get open looks, I'm going to take it, but I'm not going to force anything."

The Spartans, who led by five points at halftime, had a chance to tie it after Wisconsin's Zach Morley missed the second of two free throws that could have sealed the game. But Maurice Ager's runner in the lane caromed off the front of the rim as time expired.

"I don't think I could have gotten a better look," Ager said. "It just came out."

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

"They're definitely playing real well now," Wisconsin's Mike Wilkinson said of the Illini. "When they're the toughest, all five guys are scoring. It should be a fun game, definitely a challenge."

Michigan State (18-11) had hoped to avenge a 68-64 loss to Wisconsin at home that would have given the Spartans a share of the Big Ten title. Instead, they lost to the Badgers for a fifth straight time.

"I feel worse than my players," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. "They did everything you could do to win a basket ball game. Give credit to Devin Harris. He made shots I'm not even sure I'd take."

MICHIGAN STATE (18-11) - Anderson 3-8 0-0 6, Torbert 4-7 0-0 9, Davis 7-12 2-3 16, Brown 5-6 4-4 15, Hill 4-7 1-2 11 Ager 3-8 0-0 7, Trannon 0-0 0-0 0 Bograkos 0-0 0-0 0, Andreas 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 26-48 9-11 66.

WISCONSIN (23-6) - Wade 3-5 2-3 10, Wilkinson 7-16 6-7 20, Mader 0-0 0-0 0, Owens 2-4 1-2 6, Harris 7-16 2-3 21 Ukawuba 0-0 0-0 0, Nixon 1-1 0-0 2, Hanson 1-3 0-0 3, Helmigk 0-0 0-0 0, Morley 2-4 2-4 6. Totals 23-49 13-19 68.

Halftime-MSU 35-30. 3-point goals-MSU 5-11 (Hill 2-4, Brown 1-1, Ager 1-1, Torbert 1-3, Anderson 0-2), Wis. 9-21 (Harris 5-12, Wade 2-2, Owens 1-2, Hanson 1-2, Morley 0-1, Wilkinson 0-2). Rebounds-Visitor 25 (Davis 5), Wis. 29 (Wilkinson 9). Assists-MSU 12 (Brown 6), Wis. 12 (Harris 4). Total fouls-MSU 19, Wis. 13. A-15,903.

No. 12 Illinois 74, Michigan 60

INDIANAPOLIS - Dee Brown scored 21 points and the Illini held the Wolverines in the second half.

"I've got to believe pretty much everything is pretty settled in," Illinois boach Bruce Weber said of his team's NCAA Tournament position. "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 Illinois lead to two in the second half - mainly with the 3-point shooting of Daniel Horton, who led the Wolverines with 16 points.

But Brown hit his second 3-pointer, then added two free throws and another basket on a goaltend as the Illini (24-5) pulled away. A dunk by James Augustine gave Illinois its biggest lead of the game at 72-56 with less than two minutes to go.

MICHIGAN (18-11)-Robinson 7-13 0-0 15, G.Brown 0-2 0-0 0, Sims 5-8 0-0 10, Horton 6-16 0-0 16, Harris 4-14 2-2 11, Harrell 0-1 0-0 0, Petway 1-1 0-0 2, Hunter 1-2 3-4 6. Totals 24-57 5-6 60.

ILLINOIS (24-5)-Head 4-8 2-2 12, Augustine 7-12 1-2 15, Smith 2-8 1-2 5, Williams 3-11 0-3 7, D.Brown 6-11 7-7 21, Spears 0-0 0-0 0, Howard 0-0 0-0 0, McBride 2-3 2-2 8, Nkemdi 0-0 0-0 0, Carter 0-0 0-0 0, Randle 0-0 0-0 0, Ingram 3-7 0-0 6. Totals 27-60 13-17 74.

Halftime-Illinois 37-29. 3-Point goals-Michigan 7-17 (Horton 4-7, Hunter 1-1, Robinson 1-2, Harris 1-6, Harrell 0-1), Illinois 7-21 (McBride 2-3, D.Brown 2-6, Head 2-5, Williams 1-5, Smith 0-2). Rebounds-Michigan 39 (Sims 12). Illinois 29 (Augustine 8). Assists-Michigan 11 (Horton 5), Illinois 22 (Williams 7). Total fouls-Michigan 14, Illinois 10. Technical-Michigan, Sims.

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