CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- With lead scorer Warren Carter benched by
injury, Illinois managed a 71-60 victory against Idaho State on
"We found a way to win," Illini coach Bruce Weber said.
"We've done it several times, and you've got to be pleased with
Guard Akbar Abdul-Ahad led all scoring with 24 points for the
"This is like the lights on, you have to show up," Abdul-Ahad
said. "We felt like a Cinderella man. We had to compete, had to
never give up."
Illinois led 32-29 at halftime and the game stayed close as
Idaho State's David Schroeder made a free throw before Brian Randle
hit a jumper and Frazier sank a 3-pointer for Illinois. Abdul-Ahad
then hit a 3, a two-point jumper and another 3 to give Idaho State
a 38-37 lead with 16:17 left in the game.
"There was no energy in the place," Weber said. "Our kids
Idaho State built a 46-40 lead before Calvin Brock and Frazier
combined for seven points to put the Illini back on top. Illinois
maintained the lead through the final 9:17, building a 10-point
lead with 4:20 to play.
"They came ready to play," Frazier said. "Their athletes made
some big shots; we had some contested 3s."
Illinois led through most of the first half, taking control
after Schroeder made a pair of free throws to make it 9-9 7:09 into
the game. The Illini then went on a 15-4 run to give themselves a
26-13 advantage with 5:51 left in the half.
Schroeder then made a 3-point shot -- which Trent Meacham
answered with a 3-pointer of his own -- and the teams traded baskets
until halftime. Schroeder made a jumper and a pair of free throws
in the last minute of the half to tighten the score heading into
Illinois shot 34 3-pointers, making 13. The Illini made 80
percent from the free throw line in the second half, while Idaho
State connected on two of just five shots from the line.
"We were hitting shots, but I think it was our defensive
intensity picked up," said Brock, who finished with seven points
and six rebounds for the Illini. "We stopped letting them get as
many second-chance rebounds, and the defense led to offense."