No. 16 Arizona Rallies To Top Illinois
Dec. 2, 2006
PHOENIX (AP) -Chase Budinger scored 22 points and No. 16 Arizona rallied from a 16-point deficit to defeat Illinois 84-72 Saturday.
Marcus Williams added 20 points for the Wildcats (5-1), who have won five straight since a season-opening loss at Virginia. All five starters scored in double figures, combining to score all of the Wildcats' points.
Warren Carter scored 24 points and Shaun Pruitt and Chester Frazier each added 11 for the Fighting Illini (7-2), who have lost two straight games, both to ranked opponents.
The game was a reversal of the schools' thrilling 2005 Chicago Region final in the NCAA tournament, in which Arizona blew a big lead in 'neutral' Rosemont, Ill. This time, the Illini jumped ahead 35-19 midway through the first half, then withered in the face of the Wildcats' explosive offense, which ignited a pro-Arizona crowd in U.S. Airways Center, 90 miles from Arizona's Tucson campus.
Arizona went on a 12-0 run early in the second half to take its first lead since the opening minutes, 52-51. The Wildcats didn't trail again.
The Illini went on a 17-3 run to take a 22-9 lead with 12:50 to go in the first half. Illinois attacked Arizona where it's most vulnerable - in the middle. Six-foot-9 forward Warren Carter and 6-foot-10 Shaun Pruitt combined to hit 10 of 16 shots from the field in the first half.
Arizona was hurt once again by some indifferent defense for long stretches early in the game. Illinois shot 55 percent from the floor in the first half.
Illinois led by as many as 16 before Arizona woke up. Ivan Radenovic's bucket with 6:35 to go launched a 15-6 run that left Arizona down 41-36 at intermission.
Carter opened the second half on a personal 6-0 run to give Illinois a 47-36 lead. But he went to the bench with his fourth personal foul with 17:04 to go. Pruitt left a minute later after picking up his fourth foul.
Arizona surged ahead 53-52 on Mustafa Shakur's driving three-point play with 12:51 to go. The play was part of a 12-0 Wildcats run.
Illinois pulled within 71-70 with 3:52 to play, but the Wildcats closed it out with a 13-2 run.
In the 2005 Chicago Region final, the Wildcats led by 15 with 4 minutes to play and eight points with 1:15 remaining in regulation. But Illinois rallied to force overtime and pulled out a 90-89 victory.
All five Illinois starters from that team are now in the NBA. Arizona also has a different look, although Wildcat starters Shakur, Radenovic and McClellan all played significant roles two years ago.