No. 7 Wildcats Overcome Illini, 87-82

Dec 4, 2001

AP Sports Writer

PHOENIX - Jason Gardner scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half,including six consecutive free throws over the final 54 seconds, and No. 7Arizona held off fifth-ranked Illinois 87-82 Tuesday night.

Frank Williams scored 16 of his 30 points over the last 4:19 as the Illini(6-2), who trailed by as many as 19 points early in the second half, narrowedthe gap to four.

Rick Anderson scored a career-high 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds in21 minutes for the Wildcats (4-1) before fouling out with 57 seconds to play.Freshman Isaiah Fox added 12 points, nine in the first half as Arizona built a16-point lead.

Williams' third 3-pointer in his late rush cut the lead to 84-80 with 36seconds to go.

Gardner lifted Arizona out of danger with his final two free throws thatmade it 86-80 with 32 seconds remaining, then Fox made one of two from the lineto put the Wildcats ahead 87-80 with 16 seconds to go. Sean Harrington, fouledby Fox on a 3-point attempt, made two of three free throws with 7.8 seconds toplay for the final margin.

Gardner made 12 of 15 free throws, while Williams was 9-for-9 at the line.

The teams met for the fourth time over the last 13 months. The Wildcats wonthree of the four, including an 87-81 victory in last season's Midwest Regionalfinal.

The game was the first half of a doubleheader dubbed the Southwest Showdownat America West Arena. Arizona State played Utah in the second game.

Illinois went inside in a 20-6 run that cut the lead to 64-59 on DamirKrupalija's two free throws with 7:31 to play.

Arizona freshman Will Bynum's three-point play boosted the lead to 67-59with 7:19 remaining. Illinois cut it to five again, but Anderson grabbedteammate Luke Walton's missed free throw and was fouled. Anderson made bothfree throws to make it 70-62, then Dennis Latimore scored inside to put Arizonaup 72-62 with 4:38 to play.

The Wildcats made three of five 3-pointers to start the second half, thelast by Anderson, to go up 58-39 with 15:25 to play.

Arizona led 47-31 at halftime, even though Gardner had just five points on1-for-5 shooting. The junior playmaker, the only starter back from lastseason's NCAA runner-up team, was coming off a career-high 34 points inSaturday's 105-97 home loss to No. 4 Kansas.

Arizona has played a nationally ranked opponent in all five of its games.

The Wildcats held Illinois to 28 percent shooting in the first half andpestered the Illini into 13 turnovers, compared with three for Arizona.

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