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Illinois 51, Miami (Ohio) 49

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) -- Illinois suffered its second scare of the season, nearly falling to Miami of Ohio in the Chicago Invitational Challenge on Friday.

But the Illini, relying on a team effort to make up for two injured starters, rebounded for a 51-49 win and a trip to the tournament championship on Saturday.

Miami of Ohio (2-3) built a comfortable lead early but tournament favorite Illinois slowly fought back in the second half.

The Illini (6-0) got big plays from forward Shaun Pruitt and guard Chester Frazier as they fought back from a double-digit deficit to claim their second lead with 1:20 left to play.

"I think every guy, you could go down the line, everybody made a play down the stretch," coach Bruce Weber said after the game.

Pruitt produced his second consecutive double-double, leading the Illini with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The junior forward has seen increased minutes with fellow starter Brian Randle sidelined following surgery to repair a groin-area injury.

Miami spent the game's first 15 minutes building a 16 point lead holding Illinois to 34.6 percent shooting and out-rebounding the Illini 18-to-10.

The Illini got a shot of energy when Frazier made a pair of free throws then passed to Rich McBride for a pair of 3-pointers to make it 29-19 Miami with 3:40 to go in the first half.

Frazier, a consistent team leader since stepping in for Dee Brown at the point, finished with 10 points and 4 assists after making just one field goal in the first half.

"The slow starts have got to change," Frazier said. "Teams are getting up on us, 8, 10 points within the first five minutes. We have to change that."

Illinois closed within seven points, but went into the break in the red for second time this season. Miami led 33-26 at half.

Nathan Peavy had 13 points and 8 rebounds playing the entire first half for the RedHawks, including 3-of-4 free throw shooting and a jumper with 10:44 on the clock to give Miami an 8-point lead. Peavy finished with a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds.

"He has a tendency against the real reputable teams, to play very well. He has a tendency to not play well against those teams that are not advertised," Miami coach Charlie Coles said. "Tonight it would be hard to argue anybody being better than him on either team in terms of his performance."

Illinois seemed re-energized in the second half as Warren Carter stole the ball, dishing it to Rich McBride who missed a 3-point shot Pruitt recovered for the put-back to make it 42-35 Miami with 12:30 to go.

"They came out with all kinds of intensity, you could just see it in the air," Coles said. That hurt us badly. We've got to find a way to score when teams pressure us."

With just less than 5 minutes to play, Frazier sunk a pair of free throws to put the score to 46-44 Miami and the orange-clad crowd on its feet as Illinois closed to within a basket of the win.

Warren Carter put Illinois up 48-47 by sinking a jumper with 1:20 left in the game.

Peavy matched it on the other end to regain the RedHawks' edge, and Illinois called a timeout with 39.9 seconds to play.

The Illini came back, passed around the perimeter and finally let Frazier drive for a layup and a 50-49 lead.

"It was a millisecond, it was in the matrix," Frazier said of his decision to go for the bucket. "It was either do or die, so I took it and it worked out good for me."

Miami called for a timeout with 12.1 seconds left, then came back to miss a basket, which Warren Carter batted out of bounds. Carter was fouled on the play, and split a pair in bonus to give Illinois the victory.

"We're just trying to survive, we survived tonight," Weber said. "We'll see if we can come back and survive tomorrow."