(14) Illinois 51

(4-2, 1-2 away)

Providence 70

(4-1, 4-0 home)

    7:00 PM ET, December 9, 2003

    Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

    1 2 T
    #14ILL 30 2151
    PROV 24 4670

    Top Performers

    Illinois: J. Augustine 16 Pts, 11 Reb, 2 Stl

    Providence: R. Gomes 24 Pts, 12 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl

    Gomes, McGrath spark Providence rally

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Providence has been playing zone defense for years under coach Tim Welsh. The Friars never played it as well as they did Tuesday night.

    Ryan Gomes had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Donnie McGrath scored all 15 of his points in the second half, as Providence used its 2-3 zone to beat No. 14 Illinois 70-51 in the opening game of the Jimmy V Classic.

    "We were active, we rotated and helped each other, just what you're supposed to do in a zone," Welsh said.

    And the zone did what it's supposed to do: It made it very difficult for Illinois to score.

    "We held Illinois to 30 percent shooting and 21 points in the second half," said Welsh, who is in his sixth season at Providence. "That might be the best we've played the zone since I've been here."

    Arizona (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) beat No. 6 Texas 91-83 in the second game of the doubleheader at Madison Square Garden.

    The Friars (4-1) overcame a terrible start and a 30-24 halftime deficit behind the offense of Gomes and McGrath and the effectiveness of their 2-3 zone, which shut down the backcourt of the Illini (4-2).

    Providence, coming off a loss at Rhode Island, didn't score for the opening 7½ minutes, falling behind 12-0. Despite getting within 12-11, the Friars were down six at halftime, and it seemed as though it could have been a lot worse.

    "I just told them to start playing, that's all," Welsh said of the poor start. "I told them at half we were only down six and we just had to start playing."

    Gomes and McGrath scored all the points in an 11-0 run that gave Providence a 44-35 lead with 13:07 to play. Illinois couldn't get good perimeter shots against the zone, and with McGrath starting to hit from the outside and Gomes leading the way inside, the Friars pulled away to the easy victory.

    "We didn't seem to know how to attack the zone all night," first-year Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "We couldn't even get open 3s, and there was nothing we could do to get going."

    McGrath finished 5-for-7 from the field, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range, and had five assists. He hit three 3s in the opening 5½ minutes of the second half. Rob Sanders added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Friars.

    "I just went to the offensive glass a lot harder in the second half," said Gomes, who had all eight of his offensive rebounds in the second half. "We tried to be patient and wait for the shots to fall, and Donnie's did."

    James Augustine had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Illini, and Roger Powell had 13 points. The starting backcourt of Deron Williams and Dee Brown entered with a combined scoring average of 32.0.

    Brown had four points on 2-of-9 shooting, and Williams had three points on 1-for-8 shooting.

    The Illini finished 2-for-15 from 3-point range compared with Providence's 7-for-16.

    Illinois committed 22 turnovers, with Williams having nine.

    "They outplayed us. They came ready to play, and we didn't," Williams said. "They were so active tonight and prevented us from getting any easy shots."

    Williams then showed how frustrated the Illini were with their second-half performance.

    "I think we quit," he said. "That's not Illinois basketball. They went from 13 to 20, and that can't happen."

    Providence center Marcus Douthit had four points, six rebounds and six blocked shots.

    "You have to have a guy in the middle who makes the zone effective, and Marcus was that tonight," Welsh said.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 51 70
    FG Made-Attempted 23-56 (.411) 26-60 (.433)
    3P Made-Attempted 2-15 (.133) 7-16 (.438)
    FT Made-Attempted 3-8 (.375) 11-19 (.579)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 12 (0/0)

    2003-04 Season

    » Dec 9, 2003 @PROV 70, ILL 51Recap