Pruitt and Carter combined for half of Illinois' points in overtime, and Carter came up big defensively to lead the Illini to a 58-54 victory over Indiana in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament on Friday night. Carter, a senior, finished with 17 points while Pruitt, a junior, had 16 and 12 rebounds.
The Illini (23-10) will play Wsconsin (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today; No. 3 AP) in the semifinals Saturday. Alando Tucker, the conference player of the year, made four 3-pointers in the second half in Wisconsin's 70-57 victory over Michigan State.
Illinois now is 31-6 all-time at the United Center, with an 18-game winning streak over the last six years. The Illini's last loss at the United Center was March 10, 2001, in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament. The opponent? None other than Indiana.
The Big Ten is famous for smashmouth play, but it's normally in football, not basketball. The teams combined for 20 turnovers, and both shot less than 36 percent. The last 10 minutes of the night more than made up for the slogfest, though.
It may not have been pretty basketball, but it sure was entertaining. And loud.
With 3:49 left to play and Illinois trailing 46-42, Illinois guard Chester Frazier made a 3-pointer only to have it waived off when Pruitt was fouled. A TV timeout followed, and the Illinois fans booed as the teams walked to the sidelines.
After reviewing the play during the break, officials overturned the call and gave Illinois the 3. Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson was irate, screaming to no avail at anyone who would listen.
Pruitt then converted one of his free throws to tie the game -- a four-point swing.
Each team had a chance to win it in the final seconds of regulation. Bassett missed a long jumper, and Frazier was knocked to the ground when he went high for the rebound and D.J. White came around from behind. The entire Illinois bench screamed for a foul, but the buzzer sounded without a call.
In overtime, D.J. White went up for a layup only to have Carter rip the ball away from him. On the other end, Pruitt put the ball up several times before finally scoring on a layup that gave Illinois a 53-50 lead.